In the midst of a breakout season, Danny Duffy made the wrong kind of Kansas City Royals' history Saturday.
The left-hander cut short his start against the New York Yankees after just one pitch. He was diagnosed with a sore left shoulder, and the Royals said after the 6-2 loss that he will head to Kansas City on Sunday for an MRI.
"I go out in the 'pen and took a little longer to loosen up today than it normally does," Duffy said.
He thought it was just late-season stiffness.
"I sat for five minutes before I got back out to the mound, and it just tightened up for whatever reason," he said. "It felt like I had a vice grip on my shoulder."
After he threw a ball to Jacoby Ellsbury, Duffy walked around the mound in obvious discomfort as catcher Salvador Perez motioned to the dugout.
Manager Ned Yost came to the mound, and Duffy said he wanted to keep pitching. Yost immediately motioned for right-hander Liam Hendriks.
"He said I could try to throw some more," Yost recalled. "I said, 'No, no, if it is real tight.'"
Duffy became the first starting pitcher in the Royals' 46-season history to leave a game without completing at least one batter. The last Royals starter to exit without recording an out had been Rick Reed on July 22, 1992.
Yost didn't want to speculate on a timetable for Duffy's return until the MRI results are known. Duffy was relieved his left elbow was fine — he had Tommy John surgery in 2012. The shoulder pain was more dull than sharp.
"I just have a good feeling about it," he said. "I feel like if it was really, really messed up, it would feel really bad right now. Right now, it is just achy."
Duffy is 8-11 and his 2.42 ERA is third in the AL behind Chicago's Chris Sale (2.09) and Seattle's Felix Hernandez (2.18), but at 141 1-3 innings he is short of the 162 needed to qualify for the ERA title.
"I do not think this is going to end my season," Duffy said. "I am important to this team, and I am going to do everything I can to get back out there."
Kansas City, which had won four in a row, remained two games ahead of Detroit in the AL Central. The Royals are in first place in September for the first time since 1985 — when they won the World Series in their last postseason trip.
Duffy was relieved by Liam Hendriks (1-1), who retired Ellsbury and Derek Jeter, then allowed Martin Prado's double and Mark Teixeira's RBI single. Hendricks lasted four innings, giving up four runs — three earned — and seven hits in a defeat that dropped his career big league record to 3-14 over four seasons.
Brandon Finnegan made his major league debut for the Royals in the sixth and pitched two perfect innings, becoming the first player from June's amateur draft to appear in the major leagues. The left-hander from Texas Christian was the 17th pick overall and signed for a bonus of $2,200,600.
After Alex Gordon's RBI bloop single against Brandon McCarthy (6-4) tied the score in the third, the Yankees went ahead for good in the bottom half on Ellsbury's RBI triple and Jeter's sacrifice fly.
Chase Headley make it 4-1 in the fourth when he scored from third after Perez overthrew third base for an error on a pickoff attempt. Carlos Beltran doubled in a run in the fifth and scored on a single by pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki.
Kansas City scored four runs or fewer for the eighth straight game — including a suspended game against Cleveland on Aug. 31 that will resume on Sept. 22. But the Royals are 4-3 in that span thanks to their pitching.
"They are grinding it out," Yost said. "But in the last seven, eight days, we have won some ballgames. So that is all I am concerned about: Scoring enough runs to win ballgames."
Royals: RHP Greg Holland missed his second straight game due to a tight right triceps. "Hopefully a day or two or three recovery and be ready to go," Yost said. ... DH Josh Willingham returned Saturday after missing six games because of a sore back and went 1 for 4.
Yankees RHP Shane Greene (4-2) opposes Royals RHP Yordano Ventura (11-9) in the series finale after a pregame ceremony on Derek Jeter Day.
SEEKING A SEASON SERIES WIN
Kansas City fell to 3-3 against the Yankees this season. The Royals have not won a season series from New York since 1999, when the Royals won five of nine meetings.
HENDRIKS PROVIDES RELIEF
Hendriks made his third major league relief appearance. The other two were back to back appearances for the Minnesota Twins in September 2013.
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