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Bullpen tears apart Singer’s strong start, Royals lose 5-2

Singer’s encore showed a lot of promise, but it all fall apart when the chorus kicked in

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brady Singer (51) reacts during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps I need to insult Brady Singer in the game threads more often because he twirled an absolute gem today. And this time it wasn’t spoiled by a managerial decision to leave him in for a fourth time through the order but by the bullpen’s inability to avoid home runs.

Singer’s day didn’t start off well, but it did end up pretty well. Through the first three innings, he had allowed a pair of runs. Those ended up being the only runs he would allow in the game, however, and he struck out nine batters starting in the third inning and through the end of the sixth, including striking out the side in the fifth. He also only walked one and ultimately gave up only five hits.

Unfortunately, he collects a no-decision because the offense couldn’t get much going against Yankees’ starter Gerrit Cole. Nick Pratto did hit a home run, aided by the short porch in right field, to tie things up in the third. In the fifth, the Royals put runners at first and third with none out but Drew Waters and Kyle Isbel each struck out before Maikel Garcia - victim of two strikeouts looking on pitches that appeared to be outside the zone per the broadcast graphics - slapped a single up the middle to tie the game again.

Carlos Hernandez came in to pitch the seventh inning and immediately gave up a home run to DJ LeMahieu. In the bottom of the eighth Austin Cox walked leadoff hitter Bill McKinney before earning two outs and giving way to Dylan Coleman who promptly gave up a 0-2 home run to Giancarlo Stanton with a slider right down the middle of the plate to nearly guarantee the Royals would not get to come back in this one.

Once when I was a teenager I was playing backyard football with some kids from youth group. I’ve never been particularly fast, so I was tasked on defense with the job of rushing the passer. Since no one wants to play offensive lineman in a game of backyard football my job was to count out a number of seconds (probably three or five, but I forget the exact number) and then try to chase down the quarterback - who happened to be my youth pastor - and get a two-hand touch on him to complete a “sack.” I don’t know if he did it intentionally, but throughout the day he had what I deemed to be a nasty habit of waiting until I had ALMOST reached him before unleashing his throw at the last second and completing a pass. It was infuriating.

Then, on one play, I counted down dutifully, before racing toward him and two-hand touching him at approximately the same time he threw the ball. I immediately began yelling that I’d gotten him before he threw it. Heartbeats later, the thrown ball landed in the arms of one of my fellow defenders for what would have been an interception except that as soon as I started yelling I was wrong and I hadn’t touched him, my youth pastor declared I was right the first time and I had touched him and his team was allowed to keep the ball, much to the irritation of me at him and my teammates at me (I was never a popular kid.)

If I ever truly knew whether I had touched before he threw it time has long since sapped me of that knowledge, but I was still reminded of the incident today when Bobby Witt Jr. attempted to bunt for a hit leading off the fourth inning. LeMahieu, Cole, and catcher Ben Rortvedt followed the ball down the third base line hoping to watch it roll foul. It rolled to toward foul territory for a moment before beginning to slide back into fair territory when Cole swiped at it to ensure it stayed foul. Unfortunately for him, home plate umpire Lance Barrett was also chasing the ball down the line and ruled that the ball had been on the line still when Cole swiped at it.

Replay showed that the ball had, in fact, been entirely in foul territory but that isn’t a challengeable play. Still, the point became moot when Witt, seeing the confusion at the third base line, decided to try for second. Unfortunately, Cole was not caught unaware by the decision and swiped the ball up and threw a strike down to second to easily gun down Witt.

Cole was clearly frustrated with Barrett’s call, but in the end it worked out better for him than if he had gotten his way. The opposite of what happened to me. And perhaps a metaphor for the differences in our lives. Something to ponder.

The Royals will attempt to avoid a sweep tomorrow - how many times have I written some variation of that sentence this year? Jordan Lyles will go for KC; Luis Severino will pitch for the Bombers. The game will start at 12:35 CDT.