The Kansas City Royals lost the rubber match of their three-game set against the American League Central rival Chicago White Sox, and the outing's context tells two different stories.
Story one: Kansas City recorded just four hits all night and carried an expected batting average (xBA) of .126. MJ Melendez, Bobby Witt Jr., Salvador Perez, Michael A. Taylor, Nick Pratto and Kyle Isbel all struck out at least twice, with Perez and Taylor going down on strikes three times. Starting pitcher Brady Singer surrendered a whopping 11 hits to Chicago, including a three-run home run that tripled the Royals' offensive output with one swing of the bat. The game wasn't even remotely close.
Story two: A 65-minute rain delay likely played a factor in the game's outcome for both sides. Kansas City had a trio of groundouts that were smoked (hit 100 mph or harder off the bat) and could have led to more runs coming across the plate. While Singer did give up four runs and those 11 hits mentioned above, he was better than the final box score indicates.
Regardless of how much truth is derived from the latter context, that's what Royals manager Mike Matheny is rolling with. After the club's 4-1 loss at the hands of the division's third-place team, he said the damage Singer allowed simply didn't seem like that much.
"The one fastball up... Abreu's a good hitter having a good season," Matheny said. "We know that he'll make you pay when you make a mistake, and that's one you want to get back. I thought, once again, there are some other singles that just [have] kind of found their way through this whole series. You look up there, I think he gave up 11 hits and it just didn't feel like 11 hits."
It was an interesting outing for Singer, who threw just one changeup all afternoon despite going to that pitch more in 2022 than he has at any point in the past. His slider command wasn't poor, as he stayed in the lower right area of the plate for the most part and only made a few mistakes (none were truly punished). His sinker, however, was catching way too much of the plate and saw 17 of the offerings get put into play. His pitch chart below demonstrates that display:
Heading into Wednesday's start, Singer had been on an absolute tear. In eight outings leading up to the eve of his 26th birthday, he was pitching to the tune of a 2.92 ERA with 56 strikeouts to 17 walks in 491/3 innings. It was one of the best stretches of his still-young career, and perhaps his best. His most recent outing doesn't have to derail that progress, and Matheny appreciates Singer's ability to grind through six innings even without his premier stuff and even with the rain delay coming into play.
"He's been really good lately," Matheny said. "I thought today was something that he definitely showed a lot of fight. You never doubt that on him, but to be one of those guys we call being a horse... you go out there and you figure out how to keep your team in the game."