PHOENIX -- Brady Singer was not happy about the way his past couple starts had gone -- outings that had him searching for answers about how hard and how often he was getting hit. So when he stepped onto the mound Tuesday night at Chase Field, two things were different.
First, his tempo and aggressiveness from the start of the game was intentionally different. He wanted a clean first inning, something he hasn’t gotten lately.
Second, his slider looked like a new pitch with a new grip, garnering more horizontal movement than he had seen this year.
The result? A quality start -- six innings of one-run ball -- and a win, only after the Royals’ scratched out a 5-4 victory over the D-backs.
“We battled like crazy,” Singer said. “They had us on the ropes there a little bit toward the end of the game. That’s what it’s going to take to put some wins together.”
Barlow stranded the tying run at third and winning run at second to notch his third save of the year.
“Hopefully, it can get us going in the right direction,” said second baseman Michael Massey, who went 2-for-4 for the third consecutive game. “It’s just like hitting. Everything starts coming and coming, and you just keep putting momentum together, keep putting good games together. I think the wins are going to come.”
Helping steer the Royals in the right direction was Singer, who needed to get back on track himself. Last season’s breakout starter, Singer entered Tuesday with an 8.14 ERA in ‘23.
Singer’s season has been disjointed from the start. He was on Team USA’s roster for the World Baseball Classic but pitched just two innings, putting him behind in his ramp-up ahead of Opening Day.
Opposing teams were all over him to start the regular season, slugging .477 and .611 on his sinker and slider, respectively.
Despite getting behind in counts at times for longer innings, Singer held Arizona to five hits, while striking out five and walking none. Meanwhile, the Royals knocked 14 hits against the D-backs, including 11 off starter Ryne Nelson.
“A nice outing for [Singer] personally, but also for the team,” manager Matt Quatraro said. “I saw a lot of positives in what he threw. His pitch mix, how he located, when he got behind and got back into counts.”
Armed with a new grip, Singer called his slider a “difference-maker” Tuesday. Pitching coaches Brian Sweeney and Zach Bove asked Singer to try the grip in his bullpen over the weekend, and Singer committed to it right away.
The pitch registered about three more inches of horizontal break (seven inches) from his year average (four), and he was able to manipulate the velocity. He averaged 82 mph with the pitch but dropped as low as 78.8 mph and as high as 85.5 mph.
The D-backs whiffed seven times on 22 swings on Singer’s slider (32%), and he got five called strikes on the pitch.
“I just wasn’t happy with it the last outing,” Singer said. “I have a pretty good feel for my slider, and I just felt that there was a way to make it better. We sat down and talked about it, and they came up with that. It worked out really well.
“That’s what I was happy about, being able to move it around and make it bigger or smaller and all that. It was a good pitch for me tonight.”
When Singer is on track, he’s dotting the corners with his fastball and getting called strikes because hitters aren’t anticipating the movement that comes with the sinker. He got 15 called strikes on the sinker Tuesday.
His changeup helped him out then, too, like when he struck out Alek Thomas, a lefty batter, swinging to lead off the fifth inning.
"He had that comeback two-seamer,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “... I don't want to make it sound like he was getting pitches that were off the plate, but I think he got a couple. And then I feel like our left-handers got bullied in there a little bit, and they started to get a little worried. And then he started to have an effective changeup off that two-seam fastball."