Brady Singer was about as Jekyll-and-Hyde-like as he could be in San Francisco Monday night. Facing the one of the National League’s better teams, Singer’s evening for the KC Royals ran the gamut from excellent to wretched.
In the end, though, how Kansas City’s top draft pick from its heralded but underachieving 2018 draft class righted himself might turn out to be more than just a blip on the radar of his career.
Take a look.
KC Royals starter Brady Singer had San Francisco under control. And then…
Singer’s Oracle Park night started well enough. Strikeouts of Mike Yastrzemski and Darin Ruf highlighted his easy, three-up-three-down taming of the Giants in the first inning and, after striking out Joc Pederson but walking Brandon Crawford to start the second, induced an inning-ending double play from Thairo Estrada.
The Royals rewarded Singer with two runs in the top of the third. Staked to the early lead, Singer’s seeming mastery of the Giants continued in the bottom half of the frame when he wasted little time getting two quick outs.
But then, and for an agonizingly long several minutes, Singer couldn’t throw strikes; yes, plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s strike zone was, and remained so throughout the evening, a mystery, but that doesn’t explain Singer’s sudden inability to come close to it.
The trouble started as soon as Singer yielded a two-out double to Austin Wynns. He walked Luis Gonzalez after Gonzalez pushed him to a full count. A four-pitch walk to Yastrzemski loaded the bases.
Singer’s third straight walk, this time to Ruf on 3-1, forced in Gonzalez and cut the Royals’ lead in half.
Four consecutive balls to Pederson followed and tied the game. Fortunately, Brandon Crawford then lined to center to end an ugly inning.
No one could have faulted Kansas City manager Mike Matheny had he ended Singer’s night right then and there, but he didn’t. Instead, he chose for whatever reason to send the righthander back out for the fourth, and Singer responded by retiring the Giants in order, a feat that, but for Yastrzemski’s two-out double, he would have repeated in the fifth.
Matheny gave the still-tied game to his bullpen in the sixth; the four runs Amir Garrett, Jose Cuas and Arodys Vizcaíno combined to give the Giants over the next three innings made the difference in the Royals’ 6-2 loss.
Singer’s effort, though, may be more important than it might otherwise appear.
Could Brady Singer’s two-inning recovery be big for the KC Royals’ pitcher?
The impressive fourth and fifth-inning bounce-back Singer gave Kansas City didn’t take the sting out of Monday’s loss, a defeat that marked the club’s third in a row and dropped them once again to 20 games under .500.
Nor will his recovery from an inning that could have resulted in an unmitigated disaster. But it might be a sign that Singer, plagued by a chronic inconsistency that overshadows his inarguable talent, has taken another step forward.
Singer could have collapsed after those four consecutive walks, but didn’t. He collected himself, then took full advantage of Matheny’s questionable decision to leave him in. Especially in the fourth, he appeared resolute in demeanor and approach, undaunted and unbending after the near meltdown that could have accompanied his hideous, but thankfully temporary, loss of control and command of in the third.
The performance looked much like a grownup pitcher’s moment, a strong sign of maturation and finding oneself as a big league pitcher.
Lest anyone get carried away, however—after all, Singer shaking off his third inning can’t form the basis of declaring him cured of whatever troubles drift in and out of his pitching—Monday was just one game, and Singer has much more work to do.
But after the ups-and-downs he’s gone through for two full major league seasons and part of a third, including his recent trip to the minors, Singer’s midgame pushing away of the potential side effects of one bad inning is promising.
Especially for a pitcher looking for answers, one of which he might have found Monday evening.
Time will tell.
The Royals and Giants play the second game of their three-game series tonight.