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‘No. 1-Type Arm’ Ragans Outduels Burnes as Royals Drop Finale



BALTIMORE ( — Left-hander Cole Ragans had to wait an extra five hours to duel Orioles ace Corbin Burnes in Wednesday’s rain-delayed series finale at Camden Yards. But neither the long drawn-out day nor the competition fazed the 26-year-old, who retired 18 of his first 19 batters faced.


“I felt great,” Ragans said. “I thought me and Freddy [Fermin] had a really good mix. From the get-go, I thought we mixed well. [We] talked about it in between innings. He did great back there. The guys behind me — defense — did great all night, got me some runs early. Felt good about it.”

Working quickly and efficiently with his 98 mph four-seam fastball and mixing in his knuckle curve, slider and changeup, Ragans twirled 6 1/3 masterful innings of one-hit ball, tying a career low, on just 91 pitches. But the Royals couldn’t hold on to a 3-0 lead, falling in a 4-3 walk-off heartbreaker.

Ragans’ 16 strikeouts in his first two starts ties the Royals record for most strikeouts in the first two outings of a season, putting him alongside Zack Greinke (2009) and Tom Gordon (1990).

“Any time you lose a game it’s frustrating, and especially when you get a start like that,” manager Matt Quatraro said. “But it all started in the seventh there with the two walks as well, so we know that we can’t issue free passes, especially to a really good team. And that’s kind of what bit us.

“[Ragans] is an animal out there. He has got great stuff. You saw the soft contact. You saw the swing-and-miss, the velo was up. He had everything working.”

Closer Will Smith allowed a two-run single to James McCann in the bottom of the ninth as Kansas City lost its second game of the series in walk-off fashion, a script all-too-familiar from last season.

The Royals were up 3-0 to begin the bottom of the eighth, but they watched the Orioles rally again. A walk to Ryan Mountcastle and a single by Anthony Santander started the game-changing last at-bat.

“The leadoff walk kills us,” Smith said. “You just can’t walk guys in the back of the game like that.”

After six sizzling frames, Ragans walked the first two batters to begin the bottom of the seventh. He then struck out the dangerous Santander on an 87 mph changeup before exiting with seven punchouts. Ragans’ only hit allowed was an Adley Rutschman double in the fourth.

“That was not easy conditions to play in for anybody,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “And we got out of the gate really slow offensively. Give credit to Ragans. I mean, that’s a big-time, No. 1-type arm. We did absolutely nothing against him.”

Salvador Perez tallied three singles with two RBIs off Burnes, and Maikel Garcia launched a solo homer in the seventh, his third of the season.

Six of Garcia’s first seven hits this season have gone for extra bases and the talented young star believes he knows why he’s getting such power to the ball early this season.

“It’s just the point I hit the ball,” Garcia said. “I think I hit the ball more in the front this year, so that’s why I hit harder. So just keep doing that and I think I can get more.”

There certainly are some early positives to be drawn from an impressive Royals starting pitching staff and the offense’s ability to string together 18 hits in the final two games of the series, but Quatraro knows they must learn to finish games when leading late.

“I think our guys came in here thinking we belong on the same field with these guys,” Quatraro said. “This is two Major League teams that are very competitive with a lot of guys, a lot of pride. There’s no moral victories. We played good baseball. We just got beat twice on walk-offs.”