Kansas City Royals fans have enough to worry about with their team pursuing their first playoff appearance since 1985. Saturday did not do much to help that.
The Royals lost both a game in the Bronx and one of their breakout performers to an arm injury. Danny Duffy left his start with a shoulder injury after throwing just one pitch. And then KC went on to lose the game 6-2.
Duffy, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, finally started to fulfil high expectations that followed him ever since he joined the Kansas City system. The 25-year-old lefty has a 2.42 ERA this season and a WHIP of just 1.08. But he couldn't throw more than a single pitch on Saturday afternoon before leaving with shoulder tightness.
Tommy John associates with the elbow, so this isn't a repeat of his 2012 injury. That said, pitching experts often consider shoulder injuries the more serious arm problem and Royals fans fear for the worst after a season filled with devastating injuries to some of the game's best pitchers.
Video of the injury shows Duffy stretching his shoulder just prior to throwing the first pitch. He grimaced slightly after delivering the ball and stalled behind the mound before the trainer came out with Ned Yost.
What it all means
There are two ways to spin the situation. The "glass half empty" thought is that injuries on a single pitch, like Duffy's appeared to have been, could mean he blew his arm out right there versus a gradual pain. The optimist may assume Duffy felt a small issue and thought better of continuing. If he left the game as a precaution he could have saved himself from a larger injury had he continued. But the extent of the injury is not known - at least publicly - as of now.
No matter what comes of the injury, the Royals weren't able to overcome the shock to the system for the nine innings directly following. Liam Hendriks came on in relief for the first four innings and gave up three runs. Those three were all the Yankees needed with Brandon McCarthy on the mound.
Arguably the Yankees' best healthy pitcher delivered another quality start and another win in pinstripes. McCarthy gave up just two runs in 6.2 innings for his sixth win in the American League.
Kansas City did not lose any ground in the AL Central with the Giants beating the Tigers again on Saturday. The Royals remain two games ahead of Detroit in the division, but will have to scramble for pitching with Duffy out a minimum of one start. They'll also have to get their focus back without any time to sulk as they come down the stretch of the biggest season for the team in the last 28 years. And the road just got a little bit harder.