Brady Singer began his third Major League start by striking out Cubs leadoff man Kris Bryant on a slider that darted wickedly out of the strike zone. His finish in the fifth inning was equally impressive: a 92 mph heater that Javier Báez chased up in the strike zone and
Brady Singer began his third Major League start by striking out Cubs leadoff man Kris Bryant on a slider that darted wickedly out of the strike zone. His finish in the fifth inning was equally impressive: a 92 mph heater that Javier Báez chased up in the strike zone and missed.
In between, there were flashes of all the Royals hope to see from their No. 3-ranked prospect. But on Singer’s 24th birthday Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, a 5-4 loss to the Cubs served as a reminder of the thin line separating success and failure in the big leagues.
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Singer only made a couple of mistakes, but the Cubs homered on both of them. One was a slider Jason Heyward drilled over the right-field wall for two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Jason Kipnis got the other one on a fastball that caught too much of the plate in the bottom of the fourth and resulted in another long, towering two-run home run.
“I made two mistakes,” Singer said. “It's obviously frustrating, but it's part of the game. I’ll take it home with me and learn from it.”
Singer threw 93 pitches in five innings and struck out eight. He showed his full assortment of pitches and gave an entire organization reason to believe he’s headed in the right direction.
“I thought he did a great job,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “He controlled his fastball so well today. He's got that crazy late life on his heater. Unfortunately, they jumped all over a couple mistakes.”
What Matheny also took out of the game was watching his team rally for two runs off Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth and leave the tying run stranded on third when Bubba Starling grounded out to Bryant to end it.
Starling scalded that ball at 102 mph, but had nothing to show for it. The Royals have had a lot of that in this 3-9 start. They began the day leading the American League with 98 balls hit at 95 mph or better.
But they were 27th in the Majors in on-base percentage and 20th in OPS. Those things surely even out at some point, right? Matheny wanted no part of a moral victory, but he appreciated what he saw in terms of effort.
“We’re paid to win ballgames,” he said, “but to see that kind of fight and those kind of at-bats late in the game, I was really proud of how they went about that and were a couple inches away from that being a completely different ballgame and different ending. That’s the kind of fight that you want to see.”
Kimbrel retired one of the three Royals he faced and was replaced by lefty Kyle Ryan. Then with Nick Heath representing the tying run at third base, Starling battled Ryan in an eight-pitch at-bat before he grounded to Bryant, who made a sliding grab and throw to first to end the rally and the game.
“We put more balls in play,” Starling said. “There was some good swings from guys throughout the lineup, but I just think we need to keep growing and having fun as a team. Quit worrying about the losses and move forward. Keep getting after it. We're gonna have our timely hits but, unfortunately, we came up a little short too late tonight.”
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.