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PREVIEW: Kansas City Royals turn to Brady Singer in rubber match vs. Tampa Bay Rays

May 22, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brady Singer (51) pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

There aren’t many situations in which Brady Singer is looked at as the veteran, but that will be the case Thursday afternoon as the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays wrap up a three-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Singer (2-3, 4.00 ERA) has 21 starts under his belt since 2020, however he will face the Rays for the first time in his career. Conversely, Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (1-0, 4.03), will be making his sixth career start and first against any team from the American League Central.

The winner of Thursday’s game will claim the series.

The Rays wasted a stellar effort by Tyler Glasnow in Wednesday’s game before emerging victorious on Manuel Margot’s RBI single in the 10th inning. Glasnow had 11 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings, but Andrew Benintendi opened the top of the ninth with a home run off reliever J.P. Feyereisen.

Glasnow figured that he would not get a shot at a complete game after throwing 102 pitches.

“It ran through my mind for sure, but I had a feeling I was done,” he said.

The Royals were unable to score a runner from third base in the top of the 10th inning. The Rays had the same opportunity in their half of the inning and Margot came through.

“We were able to get the job done there in the end,” Margot said through an interpreter.

With the two clubs combining for six runs and 48 strikeouts through two games, Thursday’s finale is expected to be a low-scoring affair.

McClanahan, 24, has hit the ground running. The hard-throwing lefty has recorded 26 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings. He’ll be looking to get beyond five innings, a feat that he’s achieved on only one occasion in five starts.

Singer, 24, has learned how to go deep into games. He’s pitched at least six innings in four of his nine starts. He picked up his second win with 6 1/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, allowing three runs on six hits.

“It was pretty impressive to watch a young pitcher not have his command,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Singer’s effort against the Tigers. “It was a battle finding his fastball command from the top. He just figured out ways to get outs. For him to get into the seventh inning is really impressive without even close to his best stuff.”

One of the batters Singer will have to figure out is Randy Arozarena. The former St. Louis farmhand impressed Matheny dating back to the latter’s time managing the Cardinals.

“I watched Randy a lot,” Matheny said. “I was a special assistant with the Royals (in 2019) and I saw him in Double-A. He pulled me aside and said, ‘Why am I not getting the chance?’

“He was coming up with a group of young outfielders, all of whom are still in the major leagues. It’s almost that he was roadblocked a little bit. But this guy is a talented player. That’s the beautiful thing about our game. If you keep your head down and keep fighting, then something clicks and you take off.”

–Field Level Media