Near no-no hangover? Hardly, says Singer

September 17th, 2020

Manager Mike Matheny, his coaching staff and the Royals' front office were curious how rookie right-hander would respond after his fantastic outing in Cleveland on Thursday.

That was the night that Singer came within four outs of a no-hitter. He finished with a one-hitter through eight innings, striking out eight.

Would there be a letdown on Wednesday? Everyone got their answers quickly in Kansas City's 4-0 win at Comerica Park as Singer nearly pitched an immaculate inning against the Tigers in the first inning, striking out the side on 10 pitches, not one out of the zone.

Singer retired the first 10 Tigers he faced before Willi Castro poked a slider at his ankles into short left field for a single in the fourth. Singer finished with six shutout innings and two singles.

“We were all asking before about what kind of distraction this might be tonight. Would he demand too much of himself after his last time out?” Matheny said. “But he just jumped right back into the rhythm he had last time. He was controlling that fastball at a different level than even last time.”

Singer, too, said he felt like Wednesday night was simply a carryover from his last dominant start.

“Yes, I think so,” Singer said. “I just kind of applied what I learned from last outing, too, and just lock in from first pitch and keep it rolling. ... But I can tell you, it’s not easy.”

While Singer just missed a no-no last time out, he just missed another rare feat this time -- an immaculate inning. Singer can’t remember ever having one at any level.

“I don’t believe I have," he said. "Absolutely would have been great. I was thinking about it.”

The Tigers walked away impressed.

"I'd say you tip your cap to that kid,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He threw the heck out of the ball. He was locating everything, and when he did misfire, he'd come back. He's got deception with that windup. The ball comes out really quick. That's a quick arm, and he's got the pitches. He threw the ball well against us tonight."

Once again, Singer relied on tunneling his two-seam fastball, which averaged 93.5 mph and maxed out at near 96, and his knee-buckling slider. Against Cleveland, Singer threw his changeup just twice. Against the Tigers, he didn’t need it at all.

“He’s going to have a good changeup,” Matheny said. “But right now, why would you throw it when the hitters are telling you that you don’t need it?”

Singer, who walked one and struck out eight, had only one mildly stressful moment. After Castro’s bloop hit, Jeimer Candelario reached on an infield single with two out. But Singer got Niko Goodrum to tap a one-hopper back at him for an easy out.

Singer threw 81 pitches -- 41 sliders, 40 two-seamers -- and 58 went for strikes. Thirty-four were either called strikes or whiffs, and as the Indians did last week, the Tigers seemed mystified about which pitch was coming, the slider or the sinker.

After throwing 119 pitches last outing, Singer wasn’t going to go much past the 80-pitch mark this time. Matheny was in protection mode for his young pitcher.

“One-hundred percent,” Matheny said. “To get us through six and we had a fresh bullpen, we didn’t need to take him any further. We’re trying to get him two more starts.”

All the offense Singer needed was delivered by in the first inning when Perez belted a fastball from rookie lefty Tarik Skubal over the left-field fence for a two-run homer. Perez also doubled in a run in the sixth.

Skubal was drafted by the Tigers in the same 2018 MLB Draft that gave the Royals Singer.