By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Meibrys Viloria had a tiebreaking pinch-hit single in the seventh inning and Texas beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2 on Thursday night, when the Rangers became the first team since 1986 to have two of its first-round picks make their big league debuts as starters in the same game.
Left-hander Cole Ragans, who twice had Tommy John surgery after being their first-round pick in 2016, allowed one unearned run over five innings in his debut. Bubba Thompson, the team’s first pick in 2017, was 1 for 3 with a bunt single in his first big league game.
“To finally have this day to where … all the hard work that I’ve put in over the years has finally paid off, and I can officially say I’m a big leaguer, it’s unbelievable,” Ragans said.
Brock Burke (5-2) struck out four in two scoreless innings after taking over for Ragans, who struck out three, walked four and allowed three singles in a 93-pitch debut. Jonathan Hernandez pitched the ninth for his second save in two chances.
Leody Taveras had an RBI single for the Rangers, who ended a seven-game home losing streak. That hit in the second inning came after Nathaniel Lowe extended his hitting streak to 11 games with the first of his two doubles.
White Sox starter Johnny Cueto (4-5), unbeaten in his last six starts, gave up three runs and 11 hits. He struck out four without a walk while pitching the entire game.
Texas had two on with one out in the seventh when Viloria singled up the middle to make it 2-1 when hitting for struggling third baseman Ezequiel Duran, in a 3-for-30 slide after striking out in both of his at-bats. Thompson’s bunt loaded the bases before Marcus Semien’s sacrifice fly.
Yoan Moncada had an RBI triple for the White Sox in the eighth before Thompson, who was in left field, made a running catch of a liner in the gap to end that inning.
The debuts by Ragans and Thompson came after the Rangers formally introduced 2022 first-round pick Kumar Rocker at the ballpark earlier in the day.
Ragans started after Texas put Jon Gray on the injured list with a left oblique strain. The 24-year-old lefty was 8-5 with a 3.04 ERA in 18 starts combined at Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Frisco.
Chicago did load the bases in the first on a walk and two singles that sandwiched Ragans’ first big league strikeout. But right after a mound visit, Ragans induced an inning-ending infield popout on his 26th pitch.
“One of our guys said he was the most prepared pitcher they’ve ever sent us to pitch in the big leagues,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Just really, really prepared and just special kid, both of those guys.”
Ragans settled down, but before the game saw the water shaking when he picked up a bottle and held it in his hand.
Thompson hit .303 with 13 homers, 48 RBIs and 49 stolen bases in 80 games at Round Rock. He showed his speed on the bunt single, and Woodward isn’t convinced that Thompson shouldn’t have already had a hit from a play in the fifth, when third baseman Moncada was given an error when trying to field a tough chopper on the run.
“It felt good. Relief because it’s hard to get to first base, you know, in this game at the highest level,” Thompson said. “It always feels good every hit. … I’m glad it came.”
The last time two former first-round picks drafted by the same club made their MLB debuts in the same game was April 8, 1986, when first baseman Will Clark and second baseman Robby Thompson debuted together for the San Francisco Giants at Houston.
Chicago got its run in the third, when Luis Robert had a leadoff walk before going to third after right fielder Adolis Garcia’s error on a dropped flyball that initially was ruled a catch before the White Sox challenged. Replay showed that Garcia never had control, and that the drop wasn’t caused by him trying to transfer the ball from the glove to his hand. Robert scored on Andrew Vaughn’s fielder’s choice comebacker.
White Sox: Robert was the DH in his first game since July 15, before the center fielder went on the injured list because of blurred vision caused by a virus. He had been activated from the injured list Tuesday but is being eased back into action.
Rangers: OF Kole Calhoun (right heel irritation) was placed on the 10-day injured list, and RHP Dennis Santana (left ankle sprain) was put on the 15-day IL. That cleared spots on the active roster, but Steven Duggar and Steele Walker, both outfielders at Triple-A Round Rock, were designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease (11-4, 2.01 ERA) makes his first start in August after being the American League’s pitcher of the month in June and July. He has won his last four starts, not given up more than one run in his last nine. Rangers right-hander Glenn Otto (4-7) is 0-5 with a 7.11 ERA in seven starts since his return from the COVID-19 related IL.
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