Danny Duffy waited 762 days to return to this ballpark, the sight of his most vulnerable moment as a major-leaguer. He allowed himself a moment of reflection as he stood inside the visitors’ bullpen at U.S. Cellular Field before a 9-1 stomping of the Chicago White Sox on Saturday. “The last time I was here,” he said to himself as he warmed up, “I went under the knife.”

On Mother’s Day 2012, Duffy felt discomfort in his left elbow after facing three batters here. An MRI later revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Tommy John surgery cost him the rest of that season, sidelined him for most of the next and shunted him into the minor leagues to start 2014.

On the day before Fathers’ Day 2014, with his dad in the stands, Duffy completed an exemplary outing. He subdued the White Sox for seven scoreless innings and matched a career-best with nine strikeouts. He stood guard as his teammates thumped their opponents en route to their sixth consecutive victory.

“That’s one of the best I’ve seen from him in a long time,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said of the game.

For most of the afternoon, Duffy (4-5, 2.83 ERA) channeled the fury that fuels him and displayed the reasons why this organization tabbed him as a future pillar. He favored his fastball, which buzzed as hard as 97 mph, and flashed the occasional changeup or sweeping slider. When his command wavered in the game’s closing stages, he trusted his defenders behind him.

Three starts ago, Duffy saw his velocity sink into the upper 80s. The team diagnosed him with a case of arm fatigue, which they attacked in the trainers room with vigor. In his three outings since, he’s allowed three runs in 182/3 frames. Saturday was his finest effort yet.

A redemptive step for Duffy coincided with yet another offensive outburst from the Royals (35-32). The White Sox opened the door a crack with a series of fourth-inning miscues; their guests ripped the door from its hinges with a five-run haymaker to eject starter Hector Noesi from the proceedings.

In the latter frames, the blows continued to fall. Mike Moustakas swatted a solo shot in the eighth for his third hit of the game. Eric Hosmer roped an RBI double in the ninth, and Billy Butler provided his second homer of the season in the next at-bat.