Homer history: O's 21st straight game with a HR sets franchise record

Westburg's record-setting blast the sole run produced by Orioles' offense in loss to Astros

June 23rd, 2024

HOUSTON -- No team in MLB has hit more homers than the Orioles this season, and unsurprisingly, they’re making some long ball history along the way.

In a 5-1 loss to Houston on Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, slugged a second-inning solo home run off right-hander Ronel Blanco, the 124th long ball for the O’s this season. It marked Baltimore’s 21st consecutive game with at least one homer, a franchise record.

The Orioles’ previous record of 20 straight games with a home run was set in 1998 (July 17-Aug. 9). The AL/NL record for consecutive games with a homer is 31, set by the Yankees in 2019 (May 26-June 30).

This year, Baltimore is getting homers from a lot of sources, with seven players who have at least nine, including five with double digits. Westburg’s no-doubt blast was his 12th of 2024.

It was also the first of Westburg’s 15 career home runs to come in his home state of Texas. The 25-year-old grew up in New Braunfels, about 175 miles west of Minute Maid Park. Was it a meaningful experience for him?

“Sure, in the moment, but all I want to do is win, and it’s a disappointing loss, it’s a frustrating loss,” Westburg said. “And so, yeah, it was cool in the moment, but it faded pretty quickly, and this one -- every loss stings, but this is a disappointing one.”

Like many of the players in the Orioles’ clubhouse, Westburg is an intense competitor. So it was unsurprising that he cared more about the loss -- which featured seven innings of one-run ball by Blanco, who gave up only four hits and lowered his ERA to 2.34 in 14 starts -- than any home run history or sentimentality stemming from having families and friends in the stands.

Blanco outdueled Baltimore ace , whose career-best streak of quality starts ended at 10. The right-hander allowed four runs on five hits, including a two-run homer by Yordan Alvarez in the third and a solo homer by Chas McCormick in the fifth.

However, Burnes retired 21 of the 26 batters he faced and still completed seven innings.

“I threw the ball really well today, which is kind of funny to say when you lose 5-1 and you give up four runs,” Burnes said. “But just from coming off the game and just briefly looking at it: Command-wise, it’s kind of the best we’ve been. Stuff-wise, the best we’ve been. Two mistakes that we just left over the plate that they hit out. Otherwise, it’s a 1-1 ballgame there in the seventh.”

Before running into Blanco, the Orioles had already faced some frontline starters in recent weeks, and their lineup continued to mash. They had success against Braves left-hander Max Fried (four runs in five innings on June 11), Phillies righty Zack Wheeler (eight runs in 4 1/3 innings last Sunday) and Yankees righty Luis Gil (seven runs in 1 1/3 innings on Thursday).

Manager Brandon Hyde credits Baltimore’s offensive success to the game-planning done ahead of time by his players, along with co-hitting coaches Matt Borgschulte and Ryan Fuller.

“When we go into a game, our guys are as prepared as they can possibly be, and then we’re really talented, also,” Hyde said. “We’ve been facing some good starting pitching, but we have really good hitters, also, that are having some great years.”

That’s the primary reason why the O’s aren’t concerned about a two-game losing streak spiraling into more, even with games each of the next eight days to cap a month in which they’re playing 29 contests in 30 days. After all, they scored 28 runs over the previous two days before Saturday’s subdued showing.

The Orioles return home Monday for a seven-game homestand against the American League Central-leading Guardians and the defending World Series champion Rangers. But first, Baltimore has one more to play in Houston to cap its six-game road trip that featured taking two of three at Yankee Stadium.

“We knew this stretch was going to be tough, we knew the month of June is going to be tough with the caliber of teams we were playing and with the amount of days in a row that we play,” Westburg said. “But that’s what we sign up for. It’s what we look forward to. We’re all competitors at the end of the day, and we’re going to take these two on the chin and come back tomorrow and try to salvage a series.”