After thrashing St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright for eight runs in less than two innings and then holding on for a 12-8 victory Friday night, the KC Royals can sweep the Cardinals when the two teams square off in the finale of their short two-game series at Kauffman Stadium this evening. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. CDT.
Like most of their games down the stretch, tonight's contest, the last one the Royals and Cards play until next season, puts nothing major at stake for either club. The best the Royals can hope for the rest of the way is to somehow overtake Chicago for fourth place in the American League Central, a tough task considering the White Sox lead KC by 9.5 games.
And the Cardinals, just a a year removed from their fourth straight postseason appearance are, like the Royals, stuck in the cellar. They're 12 games behind National League Central-leading Milwaukee, so a fifth consecutive playoff berth is all but off the table—with 45 games left, the Cards are 9.5 games out of the NL Wild Card race.
Nevertheless, Royals fans have something to look forward to this evening.
KC Royals fans will be watching to see if Cole Ragans pitches well again
Ragans came to the Royals June 30 as part of the two-player package (he and outfielder Roni Cabrera) Texas gave up in trade to acquire Aroldis Chapman. Ragans, who broke in with the Rangers last year and went 2-3 with a 5.92 in 17 relief appearances, headed first to Triple-A Omaha after the trade.
The Royals summoned him to Kansas City to serve as the 27th man for their July 15 doubleheader with Tampa Bay; he started the nightcap and surrendered only a run in five innings. Major league 27th-man rules forced him back to Omaha after the game.
But the Royals brought him up again Aug. 2, and he pitched six shutout innings to beat the Mets that night. He struck out eight and walked just one batter in earning his first Kansas City win.
Manager Matt Quatraro gave Ragans his second start five evenings later in Boston. He was even better against the Red Sox than he'd been against the Mets, striking out 11 and again walking only one in 6.2 frames. He's 1-0 and has yielded only two earned runs in 17.2 innings (1.02 ERA) since joining the Royals.
His first three starts make it a case of so far, so good for Ragans, who can strengthen his case to stay in Quatraro's rotation with a good outing against the Cardinals tonight.