Brady Singer sets tone as KC Royals defeat Seattle Mariners for fourth straight victory

Brady Singer’s coming-of-age season in the majors continues. On Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, he shut down a likely playoff-bound ballclub as the Kansas City Royals extended their winning streak to four games.

Singer struck out eight and allowed just one run in seven innings as the Royals earned a 5-1 win over the Seattle Mariners in front of an announced 13,615 in the first game of a three-game series.

The three-game series is the final home series of the season for the Royals (62-89). And their four-game win streak is their longest of the season.

“We’re treating these games like they’re important because they are important,” Royals rookie first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino said. “So it’s just one of those things that we’re coming out to win every night, and I think it has shown the past few nights. Just because we’re technically eliminated doesn’t mean that we’re going to play like that on the field.”

Each of the Royals’ four wins on the homestand have come against teams still eligible for a playoff berth, the Minnesota Twins and the Mariners.

“The goal is to win championships,” Pasquantino said. “And to be able to prove that you can beat teams that are competing for championships in that playoff bracket is why we play. It’s why I play. I play to win a championship, at least compete for one. To be honest, I don’t really know what I would be doing here without that mindset. I don’t know how I’d be motivated every day.”

Singer shines again

Singer improved his season record to 10-4, becoming the first Royals pitcher with double-digit wins in a season since Jason Vargas in 2017. And he’s the first Royals right-hander with 10 wins since 2016, when Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez each reached that plateau.

Singer held the Mariners (82-68) to five hits and two walks in seven innings. He stranded five men on base. He threw a season-high 110 pitches, and won his third consecutive start. He has not lost since August 3.

“He just continues to get better,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Singer. “He actually didn’t have his slider until about the fifth. … For him to get out of some of those messes like he did without pitch was incredible.”

Singer, the Royals top draft pick in 2018, has now allowed just one run in his last three starts (20 innings), and he lowered his ERA to 2.99 in 23 starts (26 games) this season.

Singer gave up a second-inning solo home run to Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh, but didn’t allow another run.

“I definitely didn’t have my best stuff there at the beginning of the game, but I kind of figured it out throughout the outing,” Singer said. “I feel like I’ve kind of talked about that lately, but that’s kind of what I needed to do there — just get better throughout the whole entire thing.”

Early, Singer said he felt like his slider was “terrible.” It didn’t have the command or the bite he typically expects from that pitch.

Singer said the pitch got better throughout the game, and he was able to use his changeup to help find his way. He credited his catcher, MJ Melendez, for calling for that pitch even in situations when Singer was uncertain about it.

Pasquantino went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, while catcher Melendez went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. Hunter Dozier also went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored.

Bobby Witt Jr. (1 for 4, RBI) and Salvador Perez (1 for 4) each also doubled.

Witt’s double gave him 56 extra-base hits, the most by a Royals first-year player in franchise history. He’d been tied with Alex Gordon (2007).

The Royals pulled ahead with a two-run third inning started by Dozier’s leadoff double into the left-field corner. Nate Eaton singled to center and drove in Dozier. A fielding error by Mariners center fielder Jarred Kelenic allowed Eaton to advance to second on the play.

Melendez’s single on the ground to left field scored Eaton and gave Melendez his 58th RBI of the season.

While Singer worked through issues with his slider, the infield defense came through for him and turned double plays in the first and third innings.

The third-inning turn executed by second baseman Michael Massey and shortstop Witt and finished by Pasquantino at first base ended the inning and prevented a run from scoring from third base.

Singer also struck out back-to-back batters with runners on first and third in the fourth inning to keep the one-run lead intact.

He gave up a leadoff double in the seventh, but stranded that runner on base after a lineout to Pasquantino, a flyout that allowed the runner to advance to third base, then an inning-ending strikeout of Adam Frazier, who swung fruitlessly at an 1-2 slider.

Singer said he thanked Matheny for letting him go back out and staying out to finish the seventh.

“It’s deep in the game to where I want to be,” Singer said. “I think the pitch count was up, obviously, getting tired there at the end. I think (it was important that) Skip trusts me to throw through that and trusting the pitch count, being able to get through it.”

The Royals tacked on two more runs in the fifth after Melendez singled and scored on Witt’s line-drive double into the left-center field gap. Witt moved up to third on Sal Perez’s grounder, and Pasquantino drove in Witt with an RBI single.

Pasquantino also drove in the Royals’ fifth and final run in the seventh inning on a two-out RBI single after Perez had smacked a double into left-center field.

Futures Night

The Royals honored 12 minor-league players with Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year awards on the field prior to Friday’s game. Royals executive vice president and general manager J.J. Picollo, senior vice president/assistant general manager Rene Francisco and director of player development/field coordinator Mitch Maier presented the awards.

The players recognized on Futures Night included Triple-A Omaha outfielder Brewer Hicklen and pitcher Andrés Núñez Double-A Northwest Arkansas outfielder Tyler Gentry and pitcher Drew Parrish; High-A Quad Cities catcher Luca Tresh and pitcher Emilio Márquez; and Low-A Columbia’s catcher Carter Jensen and pitcher Ben Kudrna.

From the Arizona Complex League, the Royals honored outfielder Roger Leyton and pitcher Mauricio Veliz, and from the Dominican Summer League, outfielder Erick Torres and pitcher Emmanuel Reyes.