Westburg homers after All-Star selection, but Kremer struggles in Orioles' 9-2 loss to Cubs - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Westburg homers after All-Star selection, but Kremer struggles in Orioles’ 9-2 loss to Cubs

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer USA TODAY Photos

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BALTIMORE-What happened? Dean Kremer allowed seven runs, five earned, on seven hits in four innings as the Orioles opened their final homestand before the All-Star break with a sloppy 9-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

The Orioles remained three games ahead of the New York Yankees in the American League East after the Yankees lost to Tampa Bay, 5-3.

The best news of the day for the Orioles came when third baseman Jordan Westburg was named to the All-Star team as a replacement for Boston’s Rafael Devers, who has an injured shoulder.

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Westburg joins shortstop Gunnar Henderson and catcher Adley Rutschman, who were voted in as starters, and pitcher Corbin Burnes, who could be the American League starter on July 16th at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

“Pretty powerful,” Westburg said when asked for his reaction. “I don’t know that I could put it into words. It’s just really cool to be able to call my wife and tell my parents and hear the excitement. My heart was pumping. I was shaking. I blacked out there for a second.”

How happy is Westburg? Westburg patiently answered questions about his disappointment at being excluded from the All-Star team on Tuesday afternoon, only to find out shortly after that that he’d been added to the team.

“We talked about it before the game, and I was trying to move on from it, focus on playing tonight’s game and moving forward in the next couple of days, the next week, and prepare to jump into the second half,” Westburg said. “This is exciting new plans. I don’t mind changing the schedule up a little bit and being in Arlington.”

Westburg recently celebrated his first anniversary in the major leagues, and now joins longtime friends Henderson and Rutschman.

“I’m going to certainly be leaning on Adley. He was there last year,” Westburg said. “I’m happy for those guys. I’m hoping that we get more guys that deserve to be there in the next few days as replacements. It would be really cool to have a big group of us there because everybody’s worked their tail off all year. To represent the organization with so many guys, that would be special.”

Westburg wasn’t a full-time player in his rookie season, and now he’s become one of the team’s top players.

“Coming into the year, I didn’t expect to be in this situation,” he said. “I didn’t expect to have the opportunities that I was going to have. I believed in myself and I had confidence in my abilities. Ultimately, the game of baseball is pretty unpredictable. It’s just really cool.”

Westburg hit his 15th home run leading off the second inning.

“That was pretty cool because I was still kind of a nervous wreck,” Westburg said “The news hit pretty hard because it’s a whirlwind, getting texts and trying to coordinate plans for family and friends. To be able to slow the game down and still have a big moment like that. I know, ultimately, we lost, which is never good. [But] that was a pretty cool moment.”

How happy were the Orioles for Westburg? Manager Brandon Hyde learned that Westburg had made the team about three hours before game time, but he wasn’t allowed to reveal it until Major League Baseball announced the change.

He had talked about how deserving Westburg was, knowing that he was an All-Star.

“Before I answered the five questions in here about why he didn’t make the team, which was putting me in a super awkward spot,” he joked. “I tried to do the best I could. I just celebrated with him right before.

“It was actually right after you guys were interviewing him [about] why he didn’t make the team, and I had to go answer why he didn’t make the team when I knew he made the team. I’m happy he made the team.”

Even though Kremer had a bad night, he was pleased for Westburg.

“Everybody in this clubhouse is happy for him,” Kremer said. “He’s well-deserving, incredibly hard worker. We’re very happy for him. He deserves it.”

What happened to Kremer? Kremer missed six weeks with a strained right triceps muscle. In his first start, he allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings at Seattle on July 3rd.

“I got a few more swings-and-misses the last start,” Kremer said. “It’s easier to pitch when you’re getting swings and misses. These guys are a good contact team and they got a piece of almost everything.”

He allowed a home run to Chicago’s Michael Busch, the game’s second batter, and a three-run homer to Ian Happ in the fourth, which gave the Cubs a 7-2 lead.

“I was in and around the zone,” Kremer said. “They just put some swings on some decent pitches.”

He wasn’t helped by sloppy defense in the third when third baseman Ramón Urías and shortstop Gunnar Henderson committed errors, leading to two runs.

“Just wasn’t as sharp as he was in that outing in Seattle,” Hyde said. “He didn’t get hit real hard. A lot of mishits and fortunate breaks I thought for them. Really bad pitch to Happ. He had the split going really well in Seattle. I thought that was really inconsistent. The fastball just didn’t have the same amount of life that he had.”

Why is Burnes starting? Hyde could have started Burnes on four days’ rest Tuesday night and had him pitch again on Sunday against the Yankees, but he decided not to.

“We put a lot of thought into it and got a lot of input from everybody. We came to the conclusion of just keeping him on regular rest,” Hyde said. “It’s going to be so important to have him in the second half. Hopefully he’s going to start the All-Star Game. We’ll see what happens there. We need him for the second half.”

Homecoming: Reliever Jorge López, who was an All-Star closer in 2022 just before he was traded to Minnesota, returned to Baltimore with the Cubs. López had a second stint with the Orioles in September 2023.

“I just remember all the good memories,” López said. “I can’t wait to go out there and feel the fans again.”

Ryan Flaherty, who played with the Orioles from 2012-2017, returned for the first time since then as Chicago’s bench coach.

“It was cool to see a lot of the same people who were still here, believe it or not,” Flaherty said. “It feels familiar. I spent the offday walking around the Harbor. Walking around the city the amount of Orioles jerseys, it’s a baseball city. They deserve a winner, and these guys are certainly doing it.”

What’s the word? “I don’t have a lot of words right now. I’m still l kind of processing.”-Westburg on his reaction to being named an All-Star.

What does it mean? It’s still possible that additional Orioles — perhaps closer Craig Kimbrel, starter Grayson Rodriguez or outfielder Anthony Santander — are added to the All-Star team if others drop out.

What’s the stat of the day? 5 or 6. That’s the number of tickets Westburg thinks he’ll need for the All-Star Game. He’s from New Braunfels, Texas, about 250 miles away from Arlington.

“I thought it was going to be way more, but it’s last minute for a lot of people, so not too bad,” he said.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Trace Bright (0-9) allowed one run on three hits in four innings as Double-A Bowie lost to Altoona, 5-0. The Baysox had just five hits.

Third baseman Mac Horvath had three RBIs and hit a two-run home run, and centerfielder Enrique Bradfield had three hits and drove in three runs as High-A Aberdeen beat Asheville, 12-2. Bradfield stole three bases and has 44 this season.

Blake Money pitched four scoreless innings in relief, allowing three hits, striking out six as Single-A Delmarva beat Lynchburg, 5-1. Centerfielder Jake Cunningham hit his third home run.

Catcher Blake Hunt rejoined Triple-A Norfolk after completing a rehab assignment at Aberdeen.

Catcher Connor Pavolony was sent to Bowie. Outfielder Donta’ Williams was placed on the development list.

Catcher Creed Willems was placed on Aberdeen’s injured list with a strained left hamstring. Pitcher Trey Gibson was promoted to Aberdeen from Delmarva.

What’s next? Burnes (9-3, 2.32) will face Shota Imanaga (7-2, 3.16) on Wednesday night at 6:35.

Call for questions: Most weekdays, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles question. Please send yours to: [email protected]

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