CLEVELAND — Royals manager Ned Yost was unhappy with Danny Duffy. The left-hander fully understood why.
Duffy only lasted 2 1/3 innings and allowed four runs Wednesday night, sending the Cleveland Indians to a 5-1 win over Kansas City.
The defending American League champion Royals lost for the ninth time in 12 games, cutting their lead over Toronto to two games for the best record in American League.
"I didn’t do anything close to my job today and I cost our team a chance to advance in the standings," Duffy said. "This one stings a little bit worse than most because I have much more in the tank than I showed out there."
Duffy (7-8) surrendered six hits and walked two in his second-shortest outing of the season. He went one-plus inning against Cleveland on May 6, making him 0-2 with a 21.60 ERA against the Indians in 2015.
Yost couldn’t hide his frustration after Duffy failed to pitch into the seventh inning for the seventh time in his last eight starts.
"Danny had a lack of command again and he’s fighting his mechanics," Yost said. "If you can’t duplicate mechanics, you can’t throw strikes, and he’s just not staying in position with his arm to make the right pitches."
Yost also scoffed at speculation that Duffy is pressing, knowing that Kansas City will only use a four-man rotation in the postseason.
"If he’s worried about that, then he’s not going to make it anyways," he said. "Our job is to put the four best starters out to perform in the playoffs. You don’t worry about that, you just go out and compete."
Third baseman Mike Moustakas accounted for the Royals’ lone run with a homer in the seventh. It was his 19th home run of the year, tying him with Salvador Perez for the team lead.
Kansas City only managed five hits off Indians right-hander Danny Salazar (12-8) and relievers Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen.
"The last two weeks here, we’re not swinging the bats real well and we’re not pitching real well, either," said Yost, whose ballclub entered the evening with a 10-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central Division.
"I know our guys are human, but (slumps) like this generally don’t last too long. We’ve got to balance it out here pretty soon."
Rookie shortstop Francisco Lindor tied his season highs with three hits and four RBIs for Cleveland, which pulled four games behind for the final AL wild-card berth.
"I quite honestly think Lindor has already arrived," said Duffy, who gave up a two-run homer to him in the first. "He’s a pretty dang good hitter. The kid’s got some thump in his bat. He’s going to be a heck of a player."
SHOW OF SUPPORT
Royals RHP Greg Holland has a 5.40 ERA over his last 10 appearances, but has converted six out of seven save opportunities during that span. The two-time AL All-Star earned his 31st save Tuesday against Cleveland after allowing the first two batters to reach base. "Mental toughness is the strongest part of his game, so I’m not worried about Greg," Yost said.
Royals: OF Lorenzo Cain was in the lineup and went 0 for 4. He was hit on the leg by a pitch Tuesday, one day after twisting his ankle in the four-game series opener.
Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura has won three of his last four road starts, raising his season mark in 11 away games to 4-3 with a 5.15 ERA.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber returns to the mound for the first time since Aug. 29. He has been sidelined with a strained right hamstring.