KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bobby Witt Jr. homered and tripled with three RBIs, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 on Sunday for their second win in 10 games.
Witt and Drew Waters became the first Royals teammates to each triple and homer in the same game. In a game that sped by in 1 hour, 54 minutes, Brady Singer (6-8) won for the second time in seven starts since June 4.
“The slider was really good, had some good swing-and-miss on it, and on the changeup, too, when I needed it,” Singer said,
He needed 70 pitches through seven innings and led 7-0 before Isaac Paredes hit a solo homer and Francisco Mejía hit a three-run drive for the AL-best Rays (60-36).
“When you have a sinker that’s working like that and they put the ball on ground early, it provides a lot of confidence for him to be able to work quickly and be able to move through the game efficiently.” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said.
Singer allowed four runs and seven hits in a season-high eight innings as Kansas City improved to 27-67, the second-worst record in the major leagues and ahead of only Oakland.
“That’s vintage sinkerballer,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “You’re relying on the late movement to get the ball on the ground and that’s what happened. He just had some extra movement on it today that made it a little challenging for us.”
The early lead gave Singer confidence to attack hitters.
“It set me up to be able to stay in the zone more," he said. "I was definitely more aggressive with that lead. I was staying in the zone so much. Throwing so many strikes was helping me to get them to swing early.”
Zach Eflin (10-5) gave up a season-high five runs and seven hits over a season-low three innings, allowing hits to seven of his first 11 batters. The Rays had won three straight after a season-worst seven-game losing streak.
“I had a pretty bad bullpen going into the game,” Eflin said. “I didn’t feel like I was in sync. The sinker wasn’t working. I couldn’t figure out where the ball was going. I knew something was off going into the game. I didn’t set the tone like I should have.”
In a game that started one hour later because of rain, Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez left in the second inning after feeling left hamstring discomfort while scoring on Melendez’s double.
MJ Melendez hit a two-out RBI double in the first and the Royals opened a 5-0 lead in the second. Waters hit an RBI triple and scored on Nick Pratto’s single. Witt, who has an extra-base hit in six straight games, hit a two-run, two-out triple.
“Seeing the guys before me put together good at-bats gives you confidence,” Witt said. “Just trying to simplify as much as possible and just trying to put a good swing on the ball.”
Waters led off the fourth against Yonny Chirinos with a 465-foot home run to the upper level of the right-field fountains.
Witt led off the fifth with his 16th homer and Melendez hit a solo homer in the eighth off Chirinos.
Royals RHP Collin Snider was optioned to Omaha and RHP Max Castillo was recalled from the Triple-A team.
Royals RHP Josh Staumont, placed on the 60-day IL on Saturday, is expected to have thoracic outlet syndrome surgery and miss the rest of the season.
Rays: LHP Shane McClanahan (11-1, 2.53) will return from a stint on the 15-day IL caused by a back injury to oppose Rangers RHP Dane Dunning (8-2, 2.84) in Texas on Monday.
Tigers: RHP Matt Manning (3-1, 3.72) takes on Royals RHP Jordan Lyles (1-11, 6.42) in Kansas City on Monday.