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Ragans rejects runs, relievers repel rallies, Royals romp 4-0

Outstanding pitching offset many missed opportunities offensively

New York Mets v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Cole Ragans shoved and Kansas City rode early offense to a 4-0 win over the New York Mets this evening at Kauffman Stadium.

Ragans got off to an inauspicious start, putting the first two batters of the game on base. However, he managed to bear down and retire the next three to snuff the threat. Kodai Senga reciprocated, giving up rockets to Maikel Garcia and Bobby Witt Jr. to give Kansas City two runners on with nobody out. Senga almost repeated Ragans’s tightrope act, getting a fielder’s choice and a strikeout. He was unable to contain the rally, however, as Michael Massey yanked Senga’s first pitch down the right field line, narrowly missing a homer. Nonetheless, it was good for a double that gave the Royals a 2-0 lead.

They almost managed even more damage as Senga proceeded to walk Edward Olivares and Drew Waters to load the bases. Unfortunately, Matt Duffy did Senga a favor by striking out on a ghost fork in the dirt to end the inning.

Kansas City got off to another fast start in the second, beginning the inning with three consecutive singles, the third of which pushed the score to 3-0. This began a series of missed opportunities for the Royals. After the RBI single from Witt, Kansas City had first and second with nobody out. MJ Melendez, Salvador Perez, and Massey went down in order to end the threat. The Royals would get the leadoff man on in each of the next two innings and immediately hit into a double play in both, one of which being a true GIDP and the other a 9-3 thanks to some very poor baserunning by Olivares. Like Massey in the first, Salvy almost went yard in the fifth, but came just short and ended up settling for a double. He was initially called out after not hustling out of the box, but it was overturned on review. He was stranded at third. Once again, the Royals managed two baserunners in the sixth, chasing Senga from the game. Reed Garrett entered and retired Witt on one pitch to end the inning.

On the other side of the innings, Ragans was only capable of either going 1-2-3 or allowing multiple baserunners. 1-2-3 in the second, putting the first two on before retiring the next three in the third, 1-2-3 in the fourth, and putting two on with one out in the fifth before retiring both Franciscos to end the inning. He allowed two baserunners again in the sixth... sort of. Ragans surrendered a one out double to Mark Vientos. He punched out Brett Baty on three pitches, but then gave up a grounder through the 3-4 hole to Jonathan Araúz. Vientos rounded third but was gunned down at the plate by a strong throw from Waters to keep the Mets off the board.

Ragans gave way to Angel Zerpa to begin the seventh. Despite not striking out any of the six batters he faced, he cruised through a couple scoreless innings. Waters gave Kansas City some insurance in the eighth with a solo shot into the Royals bullpen. Zerpa gave way in the ninth to Taylor Clarke. After a couple quick outs, things got hairy. Clarke surrendered consecutive walks followed by a single to load the bases. That brought up Jeff McNeil, who was 3-4 at the time. He battled, but Clarke managed to retire him on a groundout to end the game in a 4-0 victory.

It’s hard to say enough about how good Ragans was tonight. He did an excellent job mixing in all four of his pitches, throwing them for strikes and generating whiffs. He primarily leaned on the fastball and changeup, but mixed in a healthy diet of cutters and curveballs as well. Interestingly, his velo was down across the board, but his spin rates were up. Definitely something to monitor moving forward. In addition to his career high eight strikeouts and 13 whiffs, he completed six innings for the first time and allowed just three hard-hit balls. Certainly one of the best starts by a Royal this year.

Some nuggets:

  • The Royals did a great job against a pitcher that had been very effective over the past couple months. 11 hits allowed is a new career high for Senga. While the forkball generated plenty of whiffs, it’s not really a pitch he can throw for strikes. To that end, he leaned heavily on his fastball and cutter, neither of which he located particularly well. He coaxed just two whiffs off 31 swings between the two pitches.
  • The impossible has happened: a proper winning streak. This is the first time the Royals have won at least five straight since they put together a W6 July 20-26, 2021. Additionally, this is the first time since September 20-25, 2022 that they’ve won consecutive series.
  • I watched the Mets broadcast and learned that Keith Hernandez will be at Q39 tomorrow. Presumably for dinner given it’s a day game tomorrow. If you’re at Q39 tomorrow evening, go bother him.
  • Leadoff and nine-hole hitters, including pinch-hitters, collectively went 11-17.

The win moves the Royals to 34-75. They will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

Cole Ragans: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 0 HR

Kodai Senga: 5.2 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 HR

Maikel Garcia: 3-4, R

Jeff McNeil: 3-5