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Struggling Royals hoping to change their tune against Astros

May 17, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brady Singer (51) delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals are a struggling band of players right now, but they might have found a new “lead Singer.”

The Royals return home from a nine-game road trip, in which they finished 2-7, to play the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series Friday night.

The Royals will send right-hander Brady Singer (2-0, 2.49 ERA) to the mound to face Houston’s Jose Urquidy (4-2, 4.80). Both teams enter the game following a day off on Thursday.

Singer, who looks the part of a rock and roll star from the 1950s with his pompadour haircut, has been humming since returning from Triple-A Omaha to the tune of three runs, 20 strikeouts and three walks in 19 2/3 innings.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings in his last start against Minnesota. He gave up three runs, although two scored after he left the game, on six hits. He struck out eight, one shy of his career high, which was set on May 17.

Five of his strikeouts came on called third strikes, the most by a Royals starter since 2018.

The most impressive part of his outing against the Twins was that he didn’t walk a batter. The secret has been the use of a changeup. After three relief outings in which he had trouble fooling hitters with his two-pitch combo of a sinker and a slider, he finally gave in and worked on the third pitch while in Omaha. It’s like he’s added an octave to his repertoire.

“I feel like a totally different pitcher,” Singer said after the win against the Twins. “I think the movement on my fastball is helping me tremendously. I think (having) three pitches is helping a lot.”

Singer is 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA in two career starts against the Astros.

Urquidy will be facing the Royals for the first time in his career.

Urquidy has either been hot or cold in his nine starts, but rarely in between. He has five starts in which he’s allowed two or fewer runs, but in his other four starts he’s allowed at least four runs.

He appeared to have found his groove prior to his last start against Seattle. He entered that game with six runs allowed over 20 2/3 innings in his four previous May starts. The best of those was a 10-strikeout game against Texas in which he allowed only one run on six hits and one walk over 6 2/3 innings.

“He was great,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “He had excellent control, had a good breaking ball, and his changeup was active, where it usually is.”

Like Singer, the changeup has been important for Urquidy, helping him allow just one walk and one extra-base hit.

“Today was good,” Urquidy said after the Texas start. “I just followed my catcher (Martin Maldonado) and went with his lead. I was very pleased.”

Against Seattle in his last start, he allowed six runs (five earned) on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

He just needs to get back in tune.

–Field Level Media