ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ned Yost was relieved to see July end.
The Kansas City manager hopes a 3-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday is an indication of a better August ahead for the Royals following a brutal month.
“You just kind of put July in the rearview mirror,” Yost said. “It's kind of just a little bit of a reset button. We're in a new month, and let's just go out and play good baseball.”
July? July was a 7-19 month in which perhaps the only thing that went right for the Royals was starter Danny Duffy. In 26 games during the month, Kansas City went 5-0 when he pitched, 2-19 when he didn't.
He was never as sharp as he was Monday, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning and striking out a franchise-record 16 batters. Duffy (7-1) wound up allowing one hit and one walk in eight scoreless innings.
“Duffy had everything going, obviously,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the game, which snapped a four-game winning streak for Tampa Bay. “Electric fastball and a wipeout changeup, mixed in an occasional curveball.”
The Royals (50-55) seek to continue their momentum against a Rays team that dealt away three players at the trade deadline — left-handed starter Matt Moore went to the San Francisco Giants, utility man Steve Pearce returned to the Baltimore Orioles and outfielder Brandon Guyer was shipped to the Cleveland Indians.
Tampa Bay (42-62) got back only one major league player, former Giants third baseman Matt Duffy, who will take over at shortstop for the Rays once he has recovered from an Achilles injury.
“It was tough,” Rays starter Chris Archer said of seeing Moore traded Monday. “It was definitely emotional for me because I've known Matt for a long time. And I wish him the best.”
Moore was due to start Tuesday against Kansas City. In his place, the Rays will use right-hander Matt Andriese, who has been stellar as a starter and reliever, posting a 6-2 record and a 2.75 ERA while splitting time between both roles.
The Rays are in the midst of a raft of changes:
–Desmond Jennings was activated from the disabled list Monday and came up with the Rays' only hit, an eighth-inning double. He will replace Guyer as a reserve outfielder.
–Tampa Bay is expected to shift Brad Miller — who has set a franchise record for shortstops with 17 home runs, but also has a team-high 13 errors — to first base and outfield, with Duffy taking his place at short.
–Pearce was perhaps the Rays' most consistent hitter, so his absence diminishes the offense.
Tampa Bay played with only 23 players Monday, meaning two moves will be made to replace the departed players and fill out the roster.
As the Rays try to establish a new identity after the trade deadline, they will begin those efforts Tuesday against Yordano Ventura. The Royals right-hander is 6-9 with a 4.88 ERA in an inconsistent season that saw him go 0-4 with a 4.55 ERA in July. After mustering only one hit and two baserunners Monday night, Tampa Bay won't be hard-pressed to improve on its start to August.