Dodgers' stars make Singer pay for few mistakes

Loss caps challenging stretch in which Royals were largely competitive against playoff hopefuls

June 17th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- A sinker that did not sink and a slider that did not bite were the two pitches did not want to throw to one of the best hitters in baseball, and Shohei Ohtani showed why Sunday.

Ohtani smashed two homers and Freddie Freeman added another for the only runs Singer allowed to the Dodgers in six innings, but the Royals were held scoreless by Tyler Glasnow in their 3-0 loss, dropping the series at Dodger Stadium.

The Royals (41-32) struck out nine times and mustered just three hits across seven innings against Glasnow, who threw only 85 pitches. They were held hitless the final two innings and were shut out for just the second time this year. Sunday was also the first game all year in which Kansas City did not record an extra-base hit. The Royals had recorded at least one in their first 72 games, besting the club record of the first 51 games in 1978.

Glasnow was extremely efficient, with 62 of his 85 pitches thrown for strikes.

“I think through the first three innings, there were 23 pitches,” first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino said. “Looking at the scoreboard, you’re in trouble a little bit when you see that. You hope to get a guy like that to throw a little more, especially a guy who’s very honest about it. He’s not trying to paint. He’s trying to let his stuff work, which leads to balls sometimes.”

Singer featured a much different pitch mix Sunday by relying more on his four-seamer (19%) and changeup (9%) than he typically does, a concerted effort to change the Dodgers’ sights from his signature sinker-slider combination. He would like three pitches back in the 90 he needed. The first was a sinker in the middle of the plate to Ohtani in the third inning that Singer was trying to go away with, and the other two were sliders back to back in the sixth inning to Ohtani and Freeman.

“I’m trying to get that one down,” Singer said of the slider to Ohtani. “I figured he would try to be swinging there. Try to bury that slider, but also try to get him to go after it. But it should have been more down, and it’s the pitch he does damage on, sliders down and in. So I need to get it more under the zone.”

As the Royals leave Los Angeles disappointed by a series loss, Monday’s off-day is coming at a good time before the club heads to Oakland for three games against the A’s.

Sunday wrapped a 19-game stretch in which the Royals played six consecutive series against teams who hold a postseason spot right now: the Twins (American League Wild Card), Padres (National League Wild Card), Guardians (AL Central leader), Mariners (AL West leader), Yankees (AL East leader) and Dodgers (NL West leader).

The last 12 of those games came against teams in first place.

The Royals finished 5-7 over those 12 games. Two of them were clunkers against the Yankees, when the Royals were outscored 21-6. But eight of the 12 games were decided by three runs or fewer.

“You let it marinate a little bit, and what were we -- 5-7 through this stretch?” Pasquantino said. “... Obviously we’d like to have a winning record, but I think we showed we can compete. There were two games we got our [butt] kicked by the Yankees. We played Seattle and Cleveland tough. [The Dodgers] are really good, too. I think it shows this team’s got fight. We’re never out of a game.

“As an offense, we’d like to make it a little easier on the pitchers, but I think through this stretch, we showed something. Now, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’ve still got to do our best and compete no matter who you’re playing. But this was obviously a 12-game stretch that was pretty tough.”

Like Pasquantino noted, the Royals can’t sit back and take it easy. They still have to play well and play better than what they showed over the past two weeks, while learning what it takes to beat good teams. It’ll be these clubs that the Royals could face in October, but there’s still quite a bit of season left to play.

“It’s not surprising to me how competitive they’ve been; I know that’s how our guys are built,” manager Matt Quatraro said. “There’s no easy night in the big leagues, regardless of if you’re playing first-place teams or not. I think our guys have embraced that.”