Danny Duffy and Daniel Bard have a knack for creating strong gusts of wind by making opposing hitters swing and miss. The hurlers will square off Tuesday in the second tilt of a three-game set between Boston and Kansas City.
Duffy, the Royals' hard-throwing southpaw, has notched 26 punchouts in 22 2/3 innings and has recorded more strikeouts than innings pitched in each of his four starts. He beat the Yankees on Thursday after ceding two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"He couldn't command his curveball at all, but he was overpowering with his fastball. He pitched extremely well," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That's a pretty steep task when you're going at 'em with two pitches, a fastball and a changeup. I can remember only one curveball he threw for a strike."
In his first three starts of the season, Bard struck out 19 batters. However, he only fanned one hitter in his last outing, a 5 1/3-inning effort against Oakland in which he allowed four runs on eight hits in a 4-2 loss.
"I just had a hard time putting guys away," Bard said. "I felt like -- especially early in the game -- I was getting to a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts. I would make those pitches on the edges of the zone, and for whatever reason, I wasn't getting chases. They were fouling off, and they'd work it until I left something over the plate. I was a little bewildered coming out. I just think, looking at how I felt and the results, the one thing I think could have been better was establishing the breaking ball a little more."
Both Duffy and Bard are searching for consistency. Duffy has yielded 31 baserunners in his 22 2/3 innings of work. Bard has allowed 38 batters to reach in 24 2/3 innings.
Red Sox: Dice-K not satisfied with rehab appearance
Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in a rehab outing Monday night for Triple-A Pawtucket. The right-hander struck out four, but he walked three and threw just 49 of his 87 pitches for strikes.
"I really wanted to throw at least five innings, but it didn't happen, so I'm not really happy about that," Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler.
Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery last June. He has made three Minor League rehab starts.
"Overall, my body feels good, so that's fine," he said, "but my elbow, some days it feels better than others. Right now, I'm just hoping that when I start, [it's on a] day that I'm feeling good."
Royals: Yost confident in Hochevar
Luke Hochevar has surrendered 16 runs on 19 hits in his last two starts, spanning just 6 1/3 innings. In six outings this season, the righty has compiled an ERA of 9.00, and he has allowed seven or more runs in a start on three occasions.
Nevertheless, Yost's support of his starter has not wavered.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Luke Hochevar," Yost said. "He's had two bad starts. He had a bad start here Opening Day. He's had two back-to-back bad starts that erupted in big innings. ... You don't bail on guys like that because of two bad starts. The smart thing to do is to continue to work to get him out of it."
Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett, who was scratched from his Saturday outing due to discomfort in the right lat area, declared himself good to go for his start Thursday against the Indians.
Royals reliever Greg Holland will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Tuesday as he works his way back from a left rib stress reaction.