CLEVELAND — Kansas City rookie Brady Singer allowed just one hit — a two-out single through an infield shift in the eighth inning — and flirted with baseball history while leading the Royals to a 11-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.
Making just his ninth career start, the 24-year-old right-hander was four outs from becoming the 36th rookie to throw a no-hitter when Cleveland catcher Austin Hedges, who came in batting .148, bounced a single through a wide-open right side.
Kansas City had shifted its infield for the right-handed hitting Hedges, and he found the hole left open when Nicky Lopez moved.
The hit came on a full-count and a 93 mph fastball on Singer’s 116th pitch, and after he finished the inning, the right-hander was warmly greeted by teammates in the Kansas City dugout. Singer (2-4) threw 119 pitches, the second-highest total in the majors this season behind the 122 by St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright on Aug. 30, his 39th birthday,
Maikel Franco and Adalberto Mondesi each hit three-run homers and Edward Olivares added a solo shot off Aaron Civale (3-5). The Royals have won three straight since stopping a seven-game losing streak.
Franco also had a two-run single ad drove in five runs.
Singer’s performance came in his first start after giving up a season-high 10 hits — all singles — in a loss to the White Sox on Sept 4.
The Indians have struggled at the plate all season and they spent most of the unusually chilly evening inside Progressive Field either over-swinging or guessing against Singer, who made his major league debut against Cleveland on July 25.
Singer gave up a one-out walk in the first but then retired the Indians with relative ease.
Cleveland had a few close calls: Tyler Naquin flied out to the warning track in right in the fifth, César Hernández lined out to end the sixth and Francisco Lindor hit a rocket to shortstop Mondesi in the seventh.
He got through two outs in the eighth but couldn’t put away Hedges, who joined Cleveland last week in a trade from San Diego.
Cleveland avoided being shut out with a run in the ninth, but the Indians have scored just two runs in their last 24 innings.
Olivares staked Singer to a 4-0 lead in the sixth with his third homer, a shot into the empty bleachers in left field.
Civale struck out the side in the second and got two quick outs in the third before the Royals strung together three singles and a walk to take a 3-0 lead.
Indians acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. joked that it would take three hours to describe all the unexpected decisions he’s had to make while filling in for Terry Francona.
Alomar credited the team’s collaboration and culture in helping offset Francona’s absence.
“We miss him. We miss his presence,” Alomar said of the 61-year-old Francona, who has missed 30 games. “The players miss him. As a student, you can only handle the substitute teacher for so long. You have to bring the real teacher back. It’s been fun, but I tell him all the time: ‘Get your butt back, bro.’”
Indians: 3B José Ramírez got another day off to rest his sore left thumb. Alomar said the switch-hitting Ramírez has more of an issue when he bats left-handed. The team is hoping some down time and treatment will help Ramírez heal. Entering Thursday, he led the club in homers, RBIs and steals.
Royals: Return home and begin three-game series against Pittsburgh with Kris Bubic (0-5, 4.89 ERA) starting against Pirates left-hander Steve Brault (0-2, 4.37).