Tigers tamed by Royals’ Brady Singer, tie club record with 20th shutout

Detroit News

Kansas City, Mo. — It was a few weeks ago and in a lopsided loss, the Tigers pulled off some late-inning aggressiveness on the bases to scratch across a run.

“We’re trying to score runs,” manager AJ Hinch said when asked about it. “We’re tired of seeing zeros up there.”

That was three shutouts ago. The Tigers on Sunday tied the franchise’s modern-day record by being shut out for the 20th time in a 4-0 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

“We swung the bats better on this trip so you try not to drag those other shutouts in,” Hinch said. “l wouldn’t have tallied them up until you told me. We’ve got to get better, obviously. You don’t want to get shut out once, let alone 20 times.

“But that’s our reality.”

BOX SCORE: Royals 4, Tigers 0

The 20 shutouts equals the club record set by the 1975 Tigers, a team that lost 102 games. This particular one was administered by a familiar nemesis.

The Tigers have yet to beat Royals right-hander Brady Singer. He threw seven scoreless innings at them Sunday, allowing just four hits.

“He just comes at you,” Hinch said. “He is in attack mode from the very beginning. His pace is fast, his strike-throwing is excellent and he’s added a third pitch (changeup). You have a hard time getting anything off the ground. He dominated the day.

“We’ve seen him good, but this was the best we’ve probably seen him.”

Singer is now 6-0 in 10 career starts against the Tigers and has allowed two runs or less in eight of them. Throwing a 50-50 mix of sinkers and sliders, he had them beating balls into the dirt all day Sunday — 13 ground-ball outs. He also struck out six.

“Just dotting corners,” said Riley Greene, who had one of the hits. “I went back and looked at the video and he was like, corner, corner, corner, corner. He had a good feel today and he was throwing it where he wanted to.

“He was really good today and sometimes as a hitter you’ve got to tip your cap. He was dotting every single corner with every pitch.”

The Tigers put three runners in scoring position. The last on a one-out double in the seventh inning by Spencer Torkelson, who extended his hit streak to six games. He went to third on a wild pitch.

But Singer struck out Kerry Carpenter and got Jonathan Schoop on a ground out to third. It was the sixth assist of the day for third baseman Hunter Dozier.

“We’ve swung the bats better on this trip,” Hinch said. “We can’t let today get to us. Just wash it off and get home. If we swing the bat like we have the majority of this trip we’ll be fine.”

Hinch was prophetic about Tigers’ lefty starter Tyler Alexander. Before the game he was asked what he thought might be at the core of Alexander’s recent struggles.

“It’s been quality of strikes,” he said. “He’s always been a really good strike-thrower. But he’s been spraying it a little more recently and it’s forced him to the middle of the plate and the middle part of the plate is dangerous for anybody.”

A spot-on analysis which, unfortunately for the Tigers and Alexander, was repeated.

Alexander struggled to lock in his command early, fell behind hitters, walked one, hit one and by the time he got through a long second inning, he and the Tigers were in a 3-0 hole.

It was 4-0 after left-handed hitting Michael Massey ambushed a first-pitch cutter leading off the fourth and slammed it around the foul pole in right field.

“I’m kind of going through a spell right now where they’re putting good swings on bad pitches and putting good swings on good pitches,” Alexander said. “And I’m getting a little unlucky. That’s pretty much what happened today.”

After he walked Michael A. Taylor and hit Nate Eaton with two outs in the second inning, No. 9 hitter Drew Waters dumped a ball on the right-field chalk line for a two-run double. That was certainly some misfortune.

But he needed 36 pitches to get through the first two innings. Nothing seemed easy for him.

“His outing was odd because he had to battle even more so than what the numbers indicate,” Hinch said. “He didn’t quite have his sharpness.”

In his last four starts, Alexander has allowed 19 earned runs in 17 innings. After yielding just five home runs in his first 17 outings, he’s allowed eight in his last five.

Going in the wrong direction.

“He gets into leverage counts better than most when he’s going well,” Hinch said. “His stuff as been just OK. His execution has been off.”

The loss snaps the Tigers’ three-game winning streak.

cmccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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