Career first for Dairon Blanco helps Kansas City Royals beat A’s in road-series finale

Kansas City Royals outfielder Dairon Blanco circled the bases for the first time in his major-league career Wednesday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics.

And it was a long time coming.

Blanco had waited 50 games and 94 at-bats for this moment. There were many close calls — such as his near-cycle against the Detroit Tigers. Blanco, 30, admitted he might’ve needed to do five more push-ups in preparation.

The extra push-ups came in handy Wednesday as the former Athletics prospect hit his first big-league home run. Facing A’s starting pitcher Adrian Martinez, Blanco belted an 81.6 mph slider left atop the strike zone 414 feet into the left-field seats.

Blanco admired his handiwork as he circled the infield. The home run propelled the Royals to a 4-0 victory at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

“I’m extremely proud and I’m really happy that it happened,” he said through an interpreter. “Also, we got the win today and we all did good. ...

“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going out. So, why not look at it?”

Meanwhile, Royals starting pitcher Cole Ragans shut down the Athletics at the plate. The southpaw tied his career high with 11 strikeouts, allowing just two hits and no walks in six scoreless innings.

Kansas City Royals pitcher Cole Ragans threw another masterful game on Wednesday afternoon as KC completed its series against the Athletics with a win at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Cole Ragans threw another masterful game on Wednesday afternoon as KC completed its series against the Athletics with a win at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

“It’s really impressive,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “A couple little soft contact (hits) here and there. The one ball hit him on the foot, but (he) was in total control the whole day.”

Ragans threw 99 pitches. He registered 18 whiffs and 12 called strikes to earn his fifth victory this season.

The Royals improved to 41-88 and avoided being sweep in this series.

Missed previous games of the series?

Game 1: Bobby Witt Jr. hits 25th homer as Royals fall to A’s

Game 2: Zack Greinke returns in relief role as Royals drop series in Oakland

Here are more notables from Wednesday’s game:

Bobby Witt Jr. marches towards 30-30

The Royals provided Ragans with ample run support. In the fifth inning, Witt cushioned the lead with his 26th homer, his second of the series, as the Royals took a 4-0 advantage.

Witt saw eight pitches against A’s reliever Kyle Mueller. He pounced on an 87.6 mph slider that was left over the plate. The home run traveled 389 feet and had a 103.5 mph exit velocity.

“I’m just trying to get into a good position,” Witt said. “Just trying to stay like that and stay consistent.”

This season, Witt is on pace for 31 home runs and 46 stolen bases. He is the fifth shortstop in MLB history to record at least 25 homers and 35 steals in a single season.

Witt finished 2 for 3 Wednesday.

Maikel Garcia hits MLB-leading 10th sacrifice fly

Royals third baseman Maikel Garcia has thrived in the leadoff spot this season. Before Wednesday’s game, he’d hit .296 (50 for 169) with 13 walks and 24 runs scored atop the Royals’ lineup.

Garcia continued to produce in multiple ways. In the fourth inning, He collected his 10th sacrifice fly, driving home Waters, who had tripled earlier in the frame. That gave the Royals a 3-0 lead.

Garcia now leads the majors in sacrifice flies. He also tied Carlos Beltran (10 sac flies in 1999) for the most by a Royals rookie.

Three Royals hold the franchise record with 13: Royals Hall of Famer Mike Sweeney tops the list and is joined by Darrell Porter (1979) and Dean Palmer (1998).

The Royals have tallied 44 sacrifice flies this season.

What’s next: The Royals are off Thursday before beginning a three-game weekend series against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night at T-Mobile Park.