Sunday was an absolutely perfect day for KC Royals baseball.
It was a warm 65 degrees, and for the first seven innings at The K the sun was shining, literally and figuratively, on the Royals.
Brady Singer started and pitched solidly for those seven frames, and his teammates’ typically quiet bats awoke and accounted for an uncharacteristic six runs during that same span. The combination of Singer’s good work and the club’s potent offense gave the Royals a 6-0 lead going into the eighth.
It seemed as if the Royals might get out of their three-game series with American League Central Division leader and rival Minnesota with a modicum of dignity after dropping the first two games, but then the horrible happened.
After Singer left (he’d thrown 95 pitches), the Twins clobbered the bullpen for five runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth; the Royals’ bats went silent and the once-big six-run lead turned into an embarrassing 7-6 loss.
The KC Royals collapsed and ruined starter Brady Singer’s excellent outing.
Sunday’s start was Singer’s second since Kansas City demoted him to Triple-A Omaha to stretch out and work on his changeup—the first came when the club recalled as the 27th man to pitch the back end of last Tuesday’s doubleheader against the White Sox. He made the most of his brief opportunity (MLB rules required the team to return him to Omaha after the game) by hurling seven scoreless innings and striking out nine to earn his first victory of the season.
On Sunday, though, the hearts of Kansas City fans filled with a familiar dread as Singer started the game by giving up two back-to-back singles in the top of the first. But after that (and thanks to some great defensive plays), Singer settled in and threw a game that rivaled his performance against Chicago. He didn’t allow the Twins even a single run. They managed only four hits and three walks against him.
Unfortunately, the bullpen failed Singer.
Taylor Clarke took over from Singer to start the eighth and couldn’t get an out. In just 12 pitches, he gave up four straight hits and two runs, and yielded immediately to Scott Barlow, who gave up an RBI sacrifice fly to Gary Sánchez, then a two-run homer to Kyle Garlick, and threw 29 pitches before manager Mike Matheny pulled him in favor of Josh Staumont. Two of the three runs Barlow surrendered were charged to Clarke.
Staumont came in with the Royals’ lead reduced to one (6-5) and finished the eighth without giving up a run. But the Twins tagged him for two runs in the ninth to take a 7-6 lead. The Royals went down in order to give Minnesota a series sweep.
What appeared to be one of the Royals’ best games of the season turned into their biggest meltdown of the campaign in the space of little more than a half-inning.
The Royals have problems they need to figure out and solve quickly. Nothing excuses the 7-6 loss they brought on themselves Sunday.
Kansas City starts a nine-game road trip tonight at Arizona with Zack Greinke (0-2) facing the Diamondbacks’ Zach Davies (2-2) at 8:40 p.m. CDT.