Tarik Skubal shines, but Detroit Tigers flummoxed by Royals rookie Brady Singer in 4-0 loss

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

Kansas City Royals rookie Brady Singer nearly recorded an immaculate inning against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning. Had it not been for Miguel Cabrera's third-pitch foul ball, he would've accomplished the rare feat.

What he did do, however, was strikeout the first five opponents he faced. And he had eight total punchouts in his second outing at Comerica Park and 10th start in his MLB career.

The Tigers were unable to crack Singer and the Royals' three relievers, in a 4-0 loss Wednesday at Comerica Park. They only managed two hits — both in the fourth inning — and struck out 12 times.

[ Once projected to Tigers at No. 1, Royals' Brady Singer now faces them ]

As of Wednesday night, the Tigers (21-27) are five games back of the Cleveland Indians for the AL's eighth and final spot.

The Tigers open a four-game slate against the Indians on Thursday at Comerica Park.

Rookie right-hander Casey Mize faces Cy Young candidate Shane Bieber, who has a 1.53 ERA in 10 starts, in Game 1 of the series, followed by Michael Fulmer on Friday, Spencer Turnbull on Saturday and Matthew Boyd on Sunday.

[ Tigers' 2021 spring training schedule looks like typical Grapefruit League slate ]

Skubal sets career-high

Detroit Tigers pitcher Tarik Skubal throws against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.

Tigers left-handed starter Tarik Skubal and Singer were separated by 237 picks in the 2018 draft — Singer at No. 18 overall; Skubal at No. 255. On Wednesday, they battled for the first time in their careers.

Skubal struck out a career-high eight batters. He retired 14 of 15 after giving up a two-run blast to Salvador Perez in the first inning.

[ Inside Tigers' move of Niko Goodrum to second base: 'It's their decision' ]

Yet Skubal kept the Royals from scoring again until he ran into trouble in the top of the sixth. Whit Merrifield singled, stole second and scored on a double from Perez.

Skubal, 23, came back with a strikeout of Hunter Dozier to escape further damage with a runner on third base. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits. His defense didn't help him much, including an error by shortstop Willi Castro before Perez's home run. Along with his eight strikeouts, Skubal didn't walk anyone. 

His 90 pitches were 57% four-seam fastballs, 22% changeups, 11% sliders and 10% curveballs. He produced 17 swinging strikes and 15 called strikes. Of his 17 whiffs, nine were from the fastball and six were from the changeup.

[ How Tigers' Tarik Skubal completely transformed his changeup ]

Singer only needs two

Kansas City Royals pitcher Brady Singer throws against the Detroit Tigers in the fifth inning in Detroit, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.

Two pitches.

That's all Singer needed in his second meeting with the Tigers. In the July 30 matchup, his 82 pitches went for 60% fastballs, 30% sliders and 10% changeups. Less than 50 days later, he abandoned his changeup.

The 24-year-old took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last outing, Sept. 10 vs. the Indians. He had eight strikeouts and tossed 119 pitches, only using two changeups.

On Tuesday, he pitched 51 sliders and 49 fastballs. He got seven swinging strikes with his slider and six more with his fastball. He had 21 total called strikes, and his fastball maxed out at 95.7 mph.

The Tigers put their first runner on-base with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. Castro blooped a single to left field. One batter later, Jeimer Candelario had an infield single to put two runners on, but Niko Goodrum bounced out to Singer to end the fourth.

Singer gave up two hits and one walk in six innings.

Detroit debut

Catcher Eric Haase's first at-bat for the Tigers ended with him ripping an 84.4 mph slider just left of second base. The ball traveled 107 mph off his bat, but shortstop Adalberto Mondesi made a marvelous play deep in the hole.

Mondesi fired to first baseman Hunter Dozier to get Haase by one step in the bottom of the third inning. He ended 0-for-2 but reached in the fifth inning with a walk — one of three baserunners for the Tigers.

A Dearborn Divine Child graduate, Haase was called up Tuesday to replace catcher Grayson Greiner, who the organization shipped to the alternate training site in Toledo because of troubles on offense. Entering his Tigers debut, the 27-year-old Haase had three hits and one homer in 19 career games across two seasons for the Indians.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content