Westburg punctuates All-Star selection with homer

July 10th, 2024

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles opened a three-game set on Tuesday night with a 9-2 defeat to the Cubs on a night to forget for pretty much everyone who isn’t .

On a muggy night after Westburg was announced as a first-time American League All-Star, here’s three things that stood out on a tough night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Westburg’s big shot
About three-and-a-half hours before the first pitch, Westburg had to field questions about his disappointment in not originally being selected for his first All-Star team despite a strong first half.

Only minutes later, the news came down that Westburg would in fact be joining the squad to take the place of injured Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, who is dealing with a nagging left shoulder.

Only a couple hours after that, the 25-year-old managed to contain himself long enough to club his 15th home run off Chicago starter Jameson Taillon to the scariest part of the ballpark for hitters: Elrod’s corner.

The infielder’s high-arcing shot landed just beyond the 398-foot sign in left-center field that has taunted righty sluggers since the club moved the wall back to help its pitching staff three years ago.

And it came after a pregame spent calling family and friends, trying to begin making last-minute travel arrangements to fly to the Midsummer Classic at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

“I was kind of a nervous wreck,” Westburg admitted. “The news hit pretty hard. And then it’s a whirlwind, getting texts and trying to coordinate plans for family and friends, so to kind of be able to slow the game down and have a big moment like that -- I know ultimately we lost the game which is never good, but that was a pretty cool feeling.”

A native of New Braunfels, Texas -- situated between Austin and San Antonio -- Westburg estimated he’d have a half-dozen family and friends who would be able to join him at the All-Star Game on short notice. He finished Monday 1-for-4, and is now slashing .281/.328/.512 on the season.

Dean’s down luck
’s rough four-inning, seven-run start certainly wasn’t his sharpest. But his second outing since returning from a month-and-a-half injury layoff also could’ve gone considerably differently with a little better fortune.

“He just wasn’t as sharp as he was in the outing against Seattle,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said. “He gave up the homer to [Michael] Busch, and then didn’t get hit real hard, a lot of mishits and fortunate breaks I thought for them.”

Both of the Cubs’ third-inning runs were unearned as Gunnar Henderson’s wild throw gave Cody Bellinger an extra base following his infield single. Then Ramón Urías bobbled a grounder after Dansby Swanson served up a potential double-play ball.

In the fourth, he was one pitch away from escaping a two-on, no-out jam after he induced Bellinger into a groundout and struck out Seiya Suzuki looking.

But Ian Happ fouled off three straight pitches before he caught up to a 1-2 offering onto Eutaw Street.

“I thought I would outsmart him,” Kremer said. “I had him down and away, down and away, down and away. I thought I could stand him up, up-and-in, and he got the bat to it.”

Baker cooks
On an otherwise off night for Baltimore’s staff, reliever worked two hitless innings of middle relief to suggest maybe he could recapture the form of his previous two seasons to help a bullpen that could use reinforcement.

Baker pitched to a sub-4.00 ERA in 2022 and 2023 as someone who helped bridge the gap between Baltimore’s starters and its highest leverage relievers, but didn’t make the 2024 Opening Day roster and wasn’t recalled until June.

He has been uneven since his return, but Tuesday’s effort helped him lower his ERA nearly a full run to 4.97. It’s also his third outing retiring five or more batters, all three of which have been scoreless.