Holding on to the American League’s No. 1 wild-card spot, the Tampa Bay Rays are finding their three-game series in sweltering Kansas City to be tougher than they might have expected against the last-place Royals.
The clubs will wrap up their series on Sunday. Each team notched a win in the first two contests, which have been played in 100-degree heat.
On Saturday, Tampa Bay’s bats were kept in check early by Royals starter Brady Singer, who opened with five no-hit innings before the Rays tied the score at 3 in the seventh.
However, Michael A. Taylor and Bobby Witt Jr. hit homers in the eighth, rounding out Kansas City’s 13-hit attack, as the Royals broke their four-game skid with a 6-3 victory.
On the positive side for the Rays, who lost for just the third time in their past 10 games, was the play of newcomer Roman Quinn.
The fleet outfielder, released by the Royals after signing a minor-league deal and playing for Triple-A Omaha, made a big impression in his first Tampa Bay start.
His drag bunt leading off the sixth inning ended Singer’s no-hit bid, and his two-run triple in the seventh tied the game at 3.
“It feels good to be back on the field, especially after the groin injury,” said Quinn, 29. “I’m just thankful I’m able to run like I have in the past.”
Ready to appear in his 20th game and make his 12th start of the season, left-hander Jeffrey Springs (3-2, 2.53 ERA) will pitch for the Rays for just the second time this month.
In his lone July outing, in Boston on July 5, he threw four innings in his club’s 8-4 win. In the no-decision, Springs allowed three runs on five hits, including two home runs.
His past three outings — at Baltimore, at home against Pittsburgh, and in Boston — have been difficult. Across 14 1/3 innings pitched, he has given up 10 runs on 19 hits, though he has received no decisions.
During his five-year career, Springs has made four relief appearances against the Royals, owning no record and a 4.15 ERA in 4 1/3 innings, with four runs (two earned) on five hits.
The Royals will start left-hander Kris Bubic (1-6, 5.87) on Sunday. They will be hard-pressed to match the effort of Singer, who had a career-high 12 strikeouts in his six-plus innings on Saturday.
“Just from the start, Brady on the mound did an incredible job,” Witt said on Bally Sports Kansas City. “Then Michael A. does what he does — hit a homer in the clutch situation. I was just up there trying to see a ball, hit a ball and luckily, it went out.”
Added manager Mike Matheny of Singer: “He was getting a lot of outs himself with the swing and miss.”
Witt’s homer was his team-leading 14th of the season. The shortstop also tops the club with 50 RBIs.
–Field Level Media