O's game blog: The series finale between the Orioles and Kansas City

If they can get this game in through the raindrops today in Baltimore, the Orioles and Royals are set to play the third and deciding game of this three-game series. It also ends the O's first homestand of the 2024 season.

The Orioles produced a walk-off win on Monday night, 6-4, on Jordan Westburg's two-run homer in the ninth. They were held to three hits last night in a 3-1 loss. The O's went 12-8 in rubber match games in 2023.

The Orioles have scored 11, 13 and six runs in their three wins on 33 hits with eight doubles, a triple and six homers, and have gone 11-for-27 with runners in scoring position. In the two losses they scored one and one run, going 6-for-60 as a team and 2-for-9 with RISP. 

Right-hander Corbin Burnes makes his second start for the club. On Opening Day he gave up a two-out, solo homer to the Angels' Mike Trout and then retired the last 16 batters he faced. The Angels went just 1-for-19 against him with 11 strikeouts and no walks. 

His 11 strikeouts tied Mike Mussina from 1998 for the second-most by an O's pitcher on Opening Day. Lefty Dave McNally set that mark with 13 strikeouts at Cleveland on April 7, 1970.

Burnes, a three-time All-Star and 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner, was acquired by the Orioles from the Brewers on Feb. 1 in exchange for DL Hall, Joey Ortiz and a 2024 Competitive Balance Round A pick. Entering the 2024 season, he was ranked as the No. 29 overall player in MLB Network's Top 100 Right Now ratings. He was originally selected by Milwaukee in the fourth round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Saint Mary's College (Calif.).

Burnes went 10-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts for the Brewers last season. His season included a very strong finish as he pitched to a 2.71 ERA over his last 14 starts, recording 0.98 WHIP.

Burnes led the NL in 2021 in ERA. He led the league in 2022 in strikeouts and in 2023 in WHIP. His Cy Young vote finish the past four seasons is sixth, first, seventh and eighth.

Last Thursday, Burnes became the 43rd Opening Day starter in Orioles history and the third O’s pitcher in the last five seasons to make his Baltimore debut with a start on Opening Day, joining Kyle Gibson (2023) and Tommy Milone (2020).

In his two career starts at Oriole Park, Burnes has completed 13 innings, allowing one run, four hits and one homer with one walk, a hit batter, and 19 strikeouts.

He is making his fourth career start against the Royals and owns a 2-0 record and a 1.00 ERA (2 ER/18.0 IP), allowing eight hits (1 HR) and five walks with 25 strikeouts in his three prior games against Kansas City.

The Royals' starter is lefty Cole Ragans (0-1, 3.00 ERA). Ragans, 26, was acquired last June 26 from Texas in the deal that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Rangers.

Ragans made his first career Opening Day start Thursday against Minnesota, and at 26 years old, he became the second-youngest left-handed pitcher to start on Opening Day for the Royals, behind only 25-year-old Danny Jackson in 1987. In that game he allowed two runs over six innings.

Kansas City’s starting quintet of Ragans, Seth Lugo, Brady Singer, Michael Wacha and Alec Marsh has made one turn through the rotation and has produced an ERA of 1.74 (6 ER in 31.0 IP), which ranks second in the major leagues, behind only Houston’s starting pitchers (1.46). Royals starters have held opponents to a .139 batting average (15-for-108) and that is the best in the majors. Even though it is just five starts, for the Royals this is a big turnaround from last season, when Kansas City ranked 27th in the big leagues in starters' ERA (5.12).

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