Minnesota Twins fans had to stay up a little later Thursday night after their game against the Baltimore Orioles was delayed two and a half hours due to rain, but rookie righty Tyler Duffey and his dominant curveball made the wait worthwhile as Minnesota torched Baltimore 15-2.
Duffey went 7.2 innings allowing just two runs and striking out eight. This was the second consecutive strong start for the 24-year-old, who got lit up for six runs over just two innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in his Major League debut earlier this month. He went six innings and allowed no runs against the Cleveland Indians in his second career start last Saturday.
The curveball got Duffey, though this one as the Baltimore offense had no answers for his go-to put-away pitch. He fanned six hitters through the first five innings, sending each victim back to the dugout thanks to his curve. Duffey worked himself out of multiple jams on the evening, including a second and third with no outs situation in the second inning. His command was excellent from the start, hurling 74% of his pitches for strikes and surrendering no walks.
This dominant curveball has been a much talked-about feature of Duffey’s game as he’s coasted up through the Twins farm system. He was a fifth-round draft pick out of Rice University in 2012 and instantly began to display his curve, striking out over 12 batters per nine innings in rookie ball. The righty was averaging 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings with the Rochester Red Wings (AAA) in 2015 before getting called up while also averaging under two walks per nine frames as well.
Maybe the most impressive aspect of Duffey’s last two starts was his ability to play stopper. The rookie helped the Twins snap a three-game skid Thursday night after getting swept by the New York Yankees earlier this week and win over the Indians broke a two-game losing streak. With Minnesota’s key ten-game road trip off to a terrible start after the sweep in Bronx, the win Thursday was one that the team almost needed to have and Duffey led the charge while his offense exploded for a season-high 15 runs.