* Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy got his manager, Ned Yost, off the hook today in a first game of a double-header against Detroit. Duffy allowed only one hit over six shutout innings and the Royals eked
out a 2-1 win. I thought Yost should have sent veteran James Shields against Verlander. Honestly, I thought the Tigers would chew up Duffy.
* But baseball continues to defy explanation, as it has for about 140 years now. The Royals scratched out a couple of runs against Verlander, one on a home run by a resurgent Eric Hosmer and the other on doubles from newcomers Justin Maxwell and Emilio Bonafacio.
* Maxwell and Bonafacio? Talk about a couple of scrap-heap acquisitions in the past couple of weeks. And here they are, making contributions in the heat of a pennant race. Maxwell has been a plus-.325 hitter since the Royals picked him up from Houston and Bonafacio, in two games, has a pair of hits and a couple of stolen bases. You don’t always have to go out and get Willie Mays to improve your team.
* Now the Royals can get greedy with Shields going in Game 2 this evening against young Detroit left-hander Jose Alvarez. Then who knows what happens in the final two games of this crucial five-game set.
* Isn’t it amazing how one game can so strongly affect the mood of a fan base? You would have thought the Royals were had both feet dangling from the Titanic after Thursday night’s lackluster loss to the Tigers, which came on the heels of two straight defeats at the hands of the Miami Marlins. Problem is, the Royals just aren’t hitting. That’s a concern, even after Friday’s Game 1 win.
* Greg Holland is the Royals’ MVP. The closer picked up his 33rd save against the Tigers on Friday, allowing just a walk in his one inning of work.
* Since Holland allowed four hits and a run, and blew one of the two saves he’s blown in 2013 against the Chicago White Sox on May 6, Holland has been the most dominant closer in baseball. In 36 innings since May 6, he has allowed 17 hits and three runs while walking only six and striking out 57. Holland is money.
* Enough about the Royals, who continue to lurk. How about the Cardinals promoting young second baseman Kolten Wong from Triple-A. Wong is in the lineup today against the Chicago Cubs and third baseman David Freese is not. Regular second baseman Matt Carpenter is moving to third, at least for today’s game, to make room for Wong.
* Interesting development for the Cardinals. Could they be parting ways with hometown hero Freese after the season? Don’t discount that possibility. Freese is owed his second bite at the arbitration apple after this season, during which he’s making $3.15 million. He’s having a down season and will be 31 shortly after the start of the 2014 season.
* Freese hit the most famous home run in Cardinals history in the 2011 World Series Game 6 against the Texas Rangers after hitting most likely the most famous triple in franchise history to tie the game in the ninth inning. He grew up dreaming of playing for St. Louis. The team faces a difficult decision with Freese, especially because Carpenter is a natural third baseman and has been one of the best hitters in the National League. Glad I’m not general manager John Mozielak when it comes to making this call.
* I hope you’ll check out our League 42 Foundation project. I won’t go into details here, other than to say it’s a baseball league being formed for underprivileged kids in Wichita. You can join our League 42 page on Facebook for other details.
* “The Heat” is the best movie I’ve seen this summer. Admittedly, I haven’t seen many. But Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have great chemistry, which means you can probably expect this to become a franchise. They’ll be back. I almost guarantee it.
* It was a really good season of “The Killing” on AMC. I hope that show returns. “Dexter” is having a fantastic final season on Showtime. “Breaking Bad” is off and running in its final season, which promises to be classic. I’m enjoying “The Bridge” on FX and “Under the Dome” on CBS. And then there’s “Ray Donovan” on Showtime. Everybody I know who watches this show loves it. I think it’s in the class of “The Sopranos,” which is crazy to say. Yet I’m saying it. Does that make me crazy? You decide.
* How can a show with Elliot Gould, James Woods and Jon Voight go wrong. And that’s not even giving
credit to the lead character, played by Liev Schreiber. It’s got all the family drama of “The Sopranos” and quite a bit of the violence.
* I’m looking forward to football season and I would not have picked Kansas State sixth in the Big 12. To those who believe the Wildcats’ talent level is down, I say Bill Snyder will find a way. After more than two decades of Snyder, I’ve learned that he almost always finds a way.
* I don’t watch NFL exhibition games. So shoot me. I just don’t. Nine times out of 10, nothing interesting emerges from them. And I’m not going to waste three hours or more hoping for that 10 percent shot.
* I also don’t watch NBA exhibition games and MLB exhibition games. OK, I might watch a St. Louis Cardinals exhibition game just to see some different faces. But I never put any stock in the result.
* I went to see the Eagles in Louisville on July 6. It was a great trip and the old guys still have it. Whenever I get a little down about my advancing age, my wife implores me to think about Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, still going strong into their mid-60s.
* That’ll do it for today. Big 40th high school reunion this weekend. Gotta go get all pretty.