Orioles hold on to beat Royals, 9-7, after scoring 7 runs in second inning

Jacob Calvin Meyer, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Baseball

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The last time pitchers Corbin Burnes and Cole Ragans faced off, rain delayed the start of the game by five hours and the Orioles won in walk-off fashion.

Saturday night’s rematch didn’t take as long to start, and neither did Baltimore’s bats.

The Orioles ambushed Ragans in the second inning — batting around, recording eight hits and scoring seven runs — for one of the most impressive frames an MLB club can have. Baltimore needed all seven runs — and even more — to hold on for a 9-7 win.

Six Orioles hitters drove in a run and five — Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, Anthony Santander, Jordan Westburg and Ryan Mountcastle — recorded multiple hits. Burnes had a shutout going with two outs in the sixth, and while his start was spoiled by a three-run homer from Salvador Perez, he pitched well enough for his third win of the season.

Baltimore’s bullpen struggled again after allowing six runs in Friday’s loss, surrendering four more Saturday to allow the Royals back into the game, but closer Craig Kimbrel slammed the door by retiring the side in order in the ninth for his 422nd career save. That ties him with Billy Wagner for seventh on MLB’s all-time list.

The Orioles are 5-0 in games started by Burnes and 9-0 in contests led by Burnes or No. 2 starter Grayson Rodriguez. They’re 4-7 in games not started by their top two pitchers. Burnes, who allowed four hits and one walk with four strikeouts Saturday, has a 2.76 ERA through his first five starts after joining Baltimore this offseason in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers. Rodriguez, who is also 3-0, has a 2.63 ERA to begin his second season. The rest of the Orioles’ rotation has a 5.15 ERA.

The victory extends the Orioles’ American League-best streak without being swept in the regular season to 98 series. The stretch dates to May 2022 and is the longest in the majors since World War II. The Orioles are 13-7 and a half-game back of the New York Yankees for first in the AL East.

The lone runs the Orioles scored Friday came on a grand slam from Rutschman in the seventh inning. They needed no such heroics to put up a crooked number in Saturday’s second inning.


Westburg led off with a single, stole second and scored on a double by Ramón Urías. Urías has mostly been on the bench since top prospect Jackson Holliday was promoted last week, but he’s recorded a hit in all four games he’s played since after his slump to open the season.

Catcher James McCann singled home Urías to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead before a two-out rally bounced Ragans from the game. After a single from Henderson, Rutschman singled home McCann and Mountcastle knocked in Henderson with a single. Santander hit the first of three doubles — a single-game career high — to bring home Rutschman, and Westburg knocked in two more runs with his second single of the inning.

Ragans emerged last summer as one of baseball’s best southpaws after Kansas City (13-8) acquired him from the Texas Rangers, but his start Saturday was the worst of his young career. The only other time in his career Ragans allowed seven or more runs in a start came as a rookie in 2022. He had never pitched fewer than three innings in a start, going at least five in all 12 last year. Ragans, 26, entered the game with a 1.93 ERA and left it with a 4.32 ERA.

Burnes was cruising through five innings, retiring 15 of the first 17 batters he faced without a walk. But he gave up a double to Maikel Garcia and walked Vinnie Pasquantino to bring up Perez, one of baseball’s best power-hitting catchers. He showed why by blasting his sixth long ball of the season, depositing a 97-mph sinker over the left-field wall to chase Burnes.

Around the horn

— Right-hander Tyler Wells (elbow inflammation) said he began feeling discomfort in his elbow during his start in Pittsburgh earlier this month and it worsened when he faced the Brewers last week. Manager Brandon Hyde said he doesn’t expect Wells’ time on the 15-day injured list to be “too long,” but Wells has yet to resume playing catch. The 28-year-old right-hander said he feels “really good” and that it was reassuring that imaging showed just inflammation, not any structural damage. “We consulted multiple doctors with the team, and we’ve got a great medical staff,” Wells said. “What they’ve been saying, I’ve been trusting, and so far, so good.”

— Holliday, who is 1 for 27 to begin his big league career, didn’t play Saturday with a lefty on the mound. Hyde said before the game that he talked with Holliday after his fourth straight game without a hit and gave a lengthy, insightful answer about the 20-year-old’s early struggles. “Talk about somebody that’s never failed before. [This] is a tough place to,” Hyde said. “I don’t think anybody, except for the people who are down here in [uniform], understand how hard this is. To be 20 years old and only being one year in the minor leagues and to be here says a lot about him, how talented he is. It’s a very short window right now, and he’s going to go through struggles. That’s part of being a professional baseball player — how you deal with it, adversity, tough at-bats. I think he’s handling it really, really well. Just wanted to make sure his mindset was good last night. It is. He’s just got to keep grinding. There’s nothing else to do except keep pushing and try to relax and have fun. It’s impossible when you’re struggling to have fun. Try to play free and easy the best you possibly can, and hopefully you get a couple soft singles to fall.”

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