Orioles rip into Ragans and withstand rally for 9-7 win (updated)

KANSAS CITY – Corbin Burnes tried to turn away from a hard one-hopper, felt the ball slam off his right hip, scrambled to retrieve it, failed on his first attempt and threw out the runner by a hair.

This was one batter into his start.

Burnes waved off manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel as they began walking to the mound. Like he knew that he wouldn’t be the starter knocked out early.

The Orioles sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning and scored seven runs against Royals left-hander Cole Ragans, the same pitcher who blanked them on one hit in 6 1/3 in Baltimore. The same pitcher with the 1.93 ERA.

A relaxed-turned-tense 9-7 win at Kauffman Stadium improved the Orioles to 13-7 and ran their sweepless streak in the regular season to 98 series. The offense was stagnant last night until Adley Rutschman’s grand slam in the seventh, but it took good care of Burnes.

The outburst was needed after the bullpen allowed four runs in the seventh to reduce the lead to 8-7. Yennier Cano struck out Nelson Velázquez with the bases loaded, Mike Baumann stranded Dairon Blanco at second base in the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel notched his 422nd career save to tie Billy Wagner for seventh place on the all-time list.

Anthony Santander’s career-high third double, a changeup poked inside third base at 68.1 mph, scored Ryan Mountcastle in the top of the eighth to provide a little more padding. Mountcastle doubled off the center field fence at 110.3 mph.

Burnes carried a shutout into the sixth and surrendered a three-run homer to Salvador Perez with two outs to force his removal at 98 pitches. He didn’t allow a run in the first inning for the first time in five starts, a two-out single by Vinnie Pasquantino being the only hit until Pérez’s two-out single in the fourth.

"For the most part tonight we were able to limit the contact and get some quick outs, and the pitch count was in a good spot through five," Burnes said.

Burnes retired 16 of 18 before Maikel Garcia doubled in the sixth. Bobby Witt Jr. struck out, but Pasquantino walked and Perez launched a sinker to left field.

"He was absolutely fantastic," Hyde said. "Salvy just hit an unbelievable pitch, great piece of hitting. Something hard down and in. This is a big ballpark and to be able to put a swing on it like that, that's unfortunate. But I thought Burnsie was fantastic."

"He's a veteran hitter and he's got me both times we've played them," Burnes said. "He's got five hits in the last two games, so he's obviously seeing the ball well."

Gunnar Henderson took a called third strike in the first inning on a pitch that actually missed low, after the first pitch that was a ball should have been ruled a strike. Mountcastle took a called third strike on a fastball that actually missed inside. Plate umpire Ryan Blakney was erratic early, presenting a challenge to hitters who had to guess along with him.

The solution in the second was to just keep making contact.

Jordan Westburg led off with a soft single to right. Ramón Urías pulled a changeup down the left field line for his first RBI of the season, and he raced home on James McCann’s single into left field.

Rutschman collected his fifth hit of the series, an RBI single, and Santander doubled for a 5-0 lead and allowed the Orioles to bat around.

They weren’t done.

Westburg singled again to drive in two more runs, Matt Sauer replaced Ragan, and Austin Hays drew a walk.

Five Orioles had two hits in an inning last season. Westburg did it tonight.

Westburg is 13-for-35 (.371) this season with two strikes. His average in that situation before tonight ranked third in the majors.

"Just trying to be a tough out, not giving up on any at-bats," he said. "I made some mental changes. There's some effort that goes into it. Certainly some luck. You've got to get some mistake pitches sometimes and sometimes you've got to have pitches like in my first at-bat that are way off, and sometimes they just fall. I'm just going to continue to try not doing too much in those counts and just be competitive. Try to be a tough out, move the baseball and pass the bat back."

Urías has a hit in his last six games with an at-bat. He was in the lineup for only the second time since April 5.

The Orioles had eight batters hitting from the right side against Ragans, who carried reverse splits. Left-handers were 7-for-17 against him this season and slashed .268/.333/.366 during his career, compared to right-handers at .214/.295/.340.

It didn’t really matter.

"We've got a good offense," Burnes said. "Whenever he came in the zone, it seemed like we didn't miss."

Hays lined to deep right field in the second, tilting his head back and spreading his arms with palms turned upward. A 99.5 mph out, but more hard contact against Ragans, who produced the shortest of his 26 career starts.

The Orioles worked him for 62 pitches in 1 2/3. It wasn’t going to get any better.

"I thought we just took what was given to us, a lot of singles, a lot of using the whole field," Hyde said. "I thought the approach that inning was really outstanding."

"We made the adjustment from the first game," Santander said. "He's a guy who likes to attack early in the count and we talked about it before the game and we did a pretty good job in the second inning."

"He's still got good stuff," Westburg said. "His stuff still played pretty well tonight, like you saw in the first inning. We just did a good job of adjusting and when he did make mistakes, taking advantage of them."

A walk and single followed for Hays, who was 4-for-42 coming into the game. He’s reached base four times in the series, with a single and hit-by pitch last night.

Hays moved to third base on Jorge Mateo’s double in the seventh and scored on a passed ball for an 8-3 lead. But Yohan Ramírez inherited a runner from Danny Coulombe with one out in the bottom half of the inning, hit Adam Frazier, threw two wild pitches to score a run, walked a batter and allowed Garcia’s RBI single. Colton Cowser, who replaced Hays in left field, threw out Isbel at third base.

Cano entered and the unraveling continued, with Witt reaching on an infield single, Pasquantino walking, Perez lining a two-run single into left field – tying his career high with five RBIs – and MJ Melendez reaching on Mountcastle’s fielding error. The strikeout enabled the Orioles to hold onto the lead but Cano wasn’t coming back out for the eighth.

"That's not how we drew it up there the last few innings on the mound," Hyde said. "Unfortunate. We've got to be a little better than that going forward if we're going to compete. ... It's a little sour taste right now."

Keegan Akin, who allowed three runs last night in one-third of an inning, retired the first two batters in the eighth before Blanco doubled. Kimbrel retired the side in order but needed Santander's diving catch in right that robbed Witt leading off the inning.

"Massive catch there to not bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth," Hyde said. "He's playing really, really well. He's been swinging the bat well. Just not getting the results. Good to see him kind of break out tonight."

Santander never doubted that he'd make the catch.

"I got a pretty good jump right there," he said.

Cowser was in left field because Hays felt some tightness in his calf and came out as a precaution. Cowser had the crucial assist at third base and caught a fly ball to end the game - and chucked it over his head and into the fountain, lifting his right leg for effect but forgetting that Kimbrel had reached another milestone.

Cowser jogged out of the clubhouse, returned to the field and came back holding the ball above his head. It was wet but intact, and he placed it in Kimbrel's locker.

"That's a fine, isn't it?" Hyde said in a deadpan manner. "You've got to have a little more awareness out there in left field when you catch that. Understand the guy on the mound is No. 4 or 5 in saves?"


"Seven?" Hyde continued. "He'll get there."

The teasing of Cowser was immediate.

"Right when I threw it I said, 'Craig has a lot of saves, that one might have been important,'" he said. "I literally told Ced (Mullins), I was like, 'I might have messed up,' and turns out I did. We got the ball back, though. They said it was the only one in the bottom. The other one was a really old one. Apparently, the balls sink after two minutes. That's what they said.

"I yeeted it behind me. Didn't think much, kind of messed up."

Jackson Holliday asked what kind of ball it was, just to keep Cowser on the subject.

"It was the more important ball," he said. "Billy Wagner-tying career saves ball. I don't think he can get it authenticated anymore, but we'll be all right."

How long until he lives it down? "I won't," he said.

"Every time I catch a ball and it's the last out for him, it's staying in the glove."

* Coby Mayo homered twice, doubled and drove in six runs tonight for Triple-A Norfolk. Connor Norby came within a triple of the cycle. Mayo has seven home runs and Norby five.

Daniel Johnson hit his first homer, a two-run shot.

Justin Armbruester allowed five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Double-A Bowie’s Jud Fabian hit a walk-off grand slam, his second homer of the season. Frederick Bencosme hit his third.

Trace Bright allowed one run and nine hits in five innings. Trey McGough allowed one run and struck out five in three innings, and the former Rule 5 pick in the Triple-A phase has a 0.90 ERA.

Outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., the Orioles’ No. 1 draft pick last year, was removed from High-A Aberdeen's game as a precaution after getting tagged in the head during a slide at home. MLB Pipeline ranks Bradfield as the organization’s No. 5 prospect.

Mac Horvath hit his first home run and also doubled. Elio Prado went 2-for-2 with a triple, RBI and two walks.

Single-A Delmarva’s Michael Forret tossed five scoreless innings with three hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. Riley Cooper earned his first save with four shutout innings, one hit, one walk and four strikeouts.

Cole Urman doubled and hit his first home run. Stiven Acevedo singled, doubled and drove in two runs.

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