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After taking a seven-run lead, Orioles overcame tough moments and defeated Royals 9-7

KANSAS CITY — The hard part was over. The Orioles bats reached budding star Cole Ragans, and Corbin Burnes crossed the Royals lineup.

Baltimore definitely won the battle of the aces. And yet in some ways the 9-7 win felt like a loss.

After the Orioles tagged Ragans for seven runs in just 1 2/3 innings, the O’s appeared to be on their way to an easy win on series night. But after manager Brandon Hyde Burnes showed up one batter too many and then made a series of questionable pitching decisions, Baltimore found itself hanging on for dear life.

Thanks to late insurance against the offense and two scoreless innings from Keegan Akin, Michael Baumann and Craig Kimbrel, the Orioles sneaked a victory on Saturday.

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Despite the tense ending, for a time the game seemed like another example of Hyde’s shrewd decision-making.

Two and a half weeks after his lineup was held scoreless after just one hit from Ragans, Hyde decided to beat the same nine position players as he did in the Orioles’ 4-3 victory over the Royals on April 3, albeit in a slightly different order. That right-handed group delivered, batting around in a seven-run second inning, knocking the left-handed Ragans out of the game.

In that frenzied second frame, Orioles batters collected eight hits and a walk against Ragans, who entered the night with a 1.93 ERA. Two of the hits – Adley Rutschman’s single and Anthony Santander’s double – were immediately clocked at 170 km/h. But they did it all without the benefit of a home run.

Burnes, meanwhile, cruised through the first five innings, allowing just two hits and no runs. But after Burnes surrendered a double to Maikel Garcia and a walk to Vinnie Pasquantino in the sixth, Hyde gave his workhorse starter a chance to end the inning. It backfired when Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez blasted a three-run homer into the bullpen in left field. A 7-0 lead became a 7-3 lead.

After the Orioles got an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning to make it 8-3, Hyde sent Yohan Ramírez onto the field for Danny Coulombe with a runner on second base and one down in the bottom half. Just as Akin did the night before, Ramírez and then Yennier Cano collapsed.

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What the right-hand pair gave up was disastrous: hit by pitch, wild pitch, wild pitch, walk, single, single, walk, single. When the frame was over, the Royals had gotten within a point.

Friday night’s bullpen meltdown was painful but digestible. The Orioles offense struggled to get going through the first six innings of the team’s Game 1 loss. When Keegan Akin and Dillon Tate allowed six earned runs in just 1 1/3 combined innings, it was easier to attribute the 9-4 loss to unlucky bounces, offensive inefficiency and uncharacteristic performances.

However, Saturday’s match showed how thin the line can be between a blowout and a nail-biter. Each of Hyde’s decisions was understandable in itself: giving Burnes a chance to play six innings, bringing in a resting Ramírez in an apparent blowout and calling on Cano to put out the fire.

But they nearly predicted disaster, and the Orioles, working with a shallow bullpen while waiting for starters John Means, Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells to return from injury, are teetering near disaster on a nightly basis.

Public Engagement Editor, Sports, at The Baltimore Banner.

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