The Dodgers finally faced something as hot as ever — Kaufman Stadium in the midday August sun.
In the 90-degree temperature and oppressive humidity, the air was as thick and gooey as any signature tomato barbecue sauce in this beef- and pork-centric Midwestern town.
The Dodgers’ 12-game winning streak — one shy of their longest since moving to Los Angeles in 1958 — died on the vine as the Royals salvaged a three-game series finale, 4-0, on Sunday before 18,481 fans, most of them hurried to places in the shade.
The hot hand was provided by Brady Singer, the Royals’ third-year right-hander, who gave up just one run to Chris Taylor in six scoreless innings. Singer’s ERA over his last six starts fell to 1.64, and he received a standing ovation after striking out Max Muncie in the sixth in his 102nd inning.
Not surprising. Singer (6-4) shut out a Dodgers team that scored 21 runs in lopsided victories Friday and Saturday and outscored opponents 91-31 during the streak.
“He’s really good two-seamer inside to the lefty, he makes you realize it and it opens up his sliders,” Freddie Freeman said.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts canceled pregame batting practice for the second straight day to keep his players out of the heat as long as possible. Instead, they fight in a closed cage.
“We know there’s no correlation between fielding batting practice and fielding performance,” Roberts said. “So our guys believed in it and actually really enjoyed the days where they could show up and go.”
Except when it’s a small show and doesn’t go. The Dodgers only threatened in the fifth when Joey Gallo walked and Taylor walked with no outs, and in the eighth when Mookie Betts doubled with one out and Freeman reached on an error and stole second with two outs.
Singer got out of the jam in the fifth and closer Scott Barlow struck out Muncie to end the eighth. The ninth was a breeze for Barlow, marking the fifth time this season the Dodgers have been shut out and the first since June 27 in Colorado.
“We don’t like getting shut out, plain and simple,” Freeman said, “but we still won the series, sometimes you have to look at it that way. We have a tough series coming up in Milwaukee, so we just have to turn the page.”
The Royals didn’t put up lopsided numbers on the scoreboard, instead scoring single runs in the first, third and sixth innings against left-hander Tyler Anderson (13-2), mostly on ground balls and fly balls up the middle. .
The Royals have 12 rookies on their roster, an unusually high number. Those portable scouting reports scribbled on index cards that Dodgers outfielders look at between at-bats? Intel at KC Kiddie Corps could just read NEI – not enough information.
Rookie first baseman Vinny Pasquantino was particularly impressive in the eighth against Craig Kimbrel after hitting an RBI single in the third and a double to lead off the sixth.
“You look around and it’s almost a rookie at every position,” Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux said. “It seems they came together. I think they are fun to be a part of and will be very good in a couple of years.”
And on one fine day in 2022, they were better than the Dodgers, who were one win short of tying their record 13-game winning streak since the team moved to Los Angeles
The Dodgers won 13 straight in 1962 when they won 102 games but finished second in the National League behind the San Francisco Giants. In 1965, they won their final 13 games in September to overcome the Giants, win the pennant and defeat the Minnesota Twins in the World Series.
The series, which ended on Sunday, did not cause such drama. The Dodgers are 79-34, hold a 16-game lead over the San Diego Padres in the Netherlands West and have four more wins than any other team in baseball.
One loss—even a ejection—didn’t change Roberts’ calculus.
“The biggest thing about this group is just the determination to show up every day to win the game,” he said. “It’s such a good team offense from what I’ve seen, and as far as run prevention, whether it’s a starter or a guy coming out of the bullpen, they’ve all done a fantastic job.”
Dustin May made his fifth and final rehab start out of Triple A on Sunday night, striking out 10 and giving up just a solo home run in five innings. Roberts said Maye should return to the Dodgers’ rotation when they host the Marlins this weekend.
The red-haired right-hander has a 1.89 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 19 innings over five rehab starts. He posted a 2.74 ERA and struck out 35 in 23 innings for the Dodgers in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Brusdar Graterol followed Maye into a game between Dodgers affiliate Oklahoma City and Round Rock and retired the order, striking out one in his second appearance in the rehab facility. Graterol missed five weeks with right shoulder inflammation.