(Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Cole Ragans has paid immediate dividends for the Kansas City Royals since they acquired him from Texas and converted him into a starter.
He'll make his final appearance this season in the finale of a three-game series at Detroit on Thursday afternoon.
That contest will take place after the teams complete a suspended game. Detroit (74-83) was leading 4-0 after four innings on Wednesday night before heavy rains led to the suspension of play.
Ragans was one of two players the Royals (54-103) got in return for reliever Aroldis Chapman. Ragans made 17 relief appearances with the Rangers but has started in all 11 of his outings with Kansas City.
Ragans (7-4, 3.31 ERA) has posted a 5-1 record and 2.34 ERA for the Royals while recording 81 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings.
In his most recent outing on Friday, Ragans held Houston to two runs and three hits in six innings. The Astros were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position during those innings.
"I had a few walks, made some pitches when I needed to make a pitch," Ragans said. "Offense was relentless once again and giving me a four-run cushion there early helps me settle down."
Ragans had given up five runs to the Astros in his previous start.
"Cole, that's pretty impressive," manager Matt Quatraro said of the left-hander. "Two starts in a row against this team as he's emerging in his big-league career and to battle the way he did. They made him work. He had good stuff. He wasn't getting as much swing and miss, but he executed some pitches when he really needed to, and that was really impressive."
Ragans pitched two-thirds of an inning against the Tigers in May, retiring both batters he faced.
Sawyer Gipson-Long will make his fourth career start for Detroit. Gipson-Long (1-0, 2.40) has pitched five innings in each of his starts against the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland.
He held the Athletics to one run and four hits on Friday. The run he gave up came in the first inning.
"It was a good learning curve for me, just being able to battle through an inning like that," he said. "I think I executed the pitches, and sometimes, pro hitters get hits, and there's nothing you can do about it except move on to the next one and try to execute the next pitch, but it was a good experience for me."
The suspension of Wednesday's game preserved the 511th homer of Miguel Cabrera's career. Cabrera, who is retiring at the end of the season, launched a solo shot during the second inning.
The Tigers also got a pinch-hit homer from Tyler Nevin, a three-run blast in the fourth inning.
Detroit starter Tarik Skubal seemed well on his way to his fifth victory this September, striking out eight, before the rain intensified. He'll have to settle for a no-decision, as relievers will complete the game.
The Tigers are 8-3 this season against the Royals and have clinched the season series against all American League Central Division opponents.
Kansas City entered the series on a six-game winning streak. Detroit won the series opener on Monday, 6-3.
--Field Level Media