In the first three innings of Kansas City’s 10-5 win over Arizona on Saturday, there was an untouchable 6-foot-3 bearded left-hander on the mound for the Royals. He baffled Diamondbacks hitters as they swung through fastballs and froze on changeups.
In the fourth and fifth innings, that pitcher disappeared. In his place was a pedestrian pitcher with a penchant for giving up the long ball.
Both men were Danny Duffy.
Duffy gave up four runs on six hits across five up-then-down innings in his final appearance of the spring. He retired the first nine hitters he faced, striking out six and coaxing three groundouts. Coupled with Yordano Ventura’s seven no-hit innings Friday, Duffy’s start gave Kansas City starters 10 straight no-hit innings.
But things unraveled in the fourth and fifth innings, when Duffy gave up all six of his hits, including a pair of homers. Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt boomed a two-run shot to left-center in the fourth, and A.J. Pollock followed one inning later with another two-run home run. Duffy also walked two in the last two frames of his outing.
Duffy will follow Ventura in the rotation during the regular season as well. He’s scheduled to start the year’s second game on April 8 against the White Sox.
• The outfield battle. The battle for the last bench spot was on display Saturday, with Paulo Orlando and Moises Sierra both earning starts in Kansas City’s outfield. Orlando hit sixth and started in left field before moving to center in the fifth. Sierra played right field and batted seventh.
Orlando went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and a walk, while Sierra went 1 for 4 with a walk. Sierra extended the Royals’ lead to 8-5 with an RBI double in the seventh and showed off his arm in the fifth with a laser throw to third after a flyball.
Orlando is on the Royal’s 40-man roster but hasn’t made his major league debut yet. Sierra has appeared in 180 games with the White Sox and Blue Jays over the last three years.
• Infante’s big day. Omar Infante went 3 for 3 with a run scored, his third multi-hit game of the spring. He cracked doubles in his first two at-bats, setting the table for Christian Colon and Lorenzo Cain to drive him in. In the first inning, Colon moved Infante over with a groundout to second before Cain singled up the middle to score him.
Infante missed the first week of spring training with a bone spur in his elbow and has, at times, struggled defensively because of the injury.
• Reserves rally. The Royals scored five runs in the top of the seventh to turn a two-run deficit into an 8-5 lead. They ripped five straight hits off Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray, with four consecutive batters driving in runs.
None of the Royals who hit in the seventh should be in Kansas City’s Opening Day lineup.
• Coleman surrenders run. Louis Coleman, in one of his last chances to earn a spot in the Royals’ bullpen, gave up a run in his only inning of work. Coleman yielded a one-out single to Jordan Pacheco, who moved to second on a wild pitch and scored when Nick Ahmed singled up the middle.
Coleman is battling Brian Flynn for the seventh spot in the bullpen and has now given up runs in his last two appearances.
• The designated hitter. For the first time in spring training this year, the Royals played without a designated hitter, as did home-standing Arizona, a National League team. Duffy had two at-bats during his start, although they could hardly be called such.
Duffy stood in the back corner of the batter’s box, watched as nine pitches sailed by him and walked back to the dugout with two strikeouts. After Duffy exited, a parade of pinch-hitters filled the pitcher’s spot.
• Arizona’s bees return. The Royals fell victim again to Phoenix’s bees, this time in Scottsdale. Bees around second base delayed the game five minutes in the bottom of the sixth inning before dispersing.
On March 8, bees caused two delays in the Royals-Angels game as they congregated behind the plate and were ultimately exterminated.
Kansas City will get its first look at Cubs phenom Kris Bryant, who leads baseball with nine home runs and is coming off a 4-for-5 performance against the Rockies. Sunday’s meeting is the only Cactus League date for the two teams, although the Royals travel to Wrigley Field for three games from May 29-31.
Edinson Volquez will get the ball for the Royals, while Chicago counters with Edwin Jackson.