Holliday gets first RBI, Westburg hits go-ahead home run in 7-5 win (updated)

BOSTON – Jackson Holliday stretched with his teammates on the field. He took batting practice while father Matt and younger brother Ethan stood behind the cage. He paused to sign some autographs before grabbing his bats and heading back to the clubhouse. Fans yelled his name.

He looked every bit like a major leaguer, except for that youthful face, of course. But he’s used to the reactions and enjoys them. It comes with a boyish grin.

Holliday worked this afternoon to keep his emotions in check. Soak in the experience but don’t let it distract. Understand the fuss but also blend, as he’s always tried to do.

Jackson’s first major league at-bat arrived with one out in the third inning and he struck out on a 2-2 sweeper from Red Sox starter Kutter Crawford while Colton Cowser stole second base. Baseball’s top prospect went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and his first RBI in the Orioles' 7-5 come-from-behind win at Fenway Park.

Jordan Westburg hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Chris Martin after the Orioles loaded the bases for the third time. The Red Sox maintained their sloppy ways with a walk, passed ball, catcher’s interference call and two wild pitches to set up Westburg for his second home run – a 432-foot shot to left-center at 111.2 mph off the bat.

“I just viewed all those situations as ways of our guys passing the bat back to the next guy, trying to string together innings, string together some runs, get back in the game,” Westburg said. “It got up to me and I was kind of doing the same thing. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was just trying to get the bat to the next guy in the lineup. And it just so happened that it went out.

“A resilient inning for us offensively.”

The homer hose reappeared in the dugout, with Westburg saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And the Orioles improved to 7-4 after closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fenway Park, where he was honored with a tribute video earlier, and struck out two to record his second save and 419th of his career.

“You never know with that big ol’ wall in left, but it felt really good,” Westburg said after matching his career high with three RBIs. “Thought I had a shot. Just glad it went over."

"He's starting to get comfortable, I think, in the big leagues, and he's taking really good at-bats," said manager Brandon Hyde. "We had a pretty young team out there tonight and a bunch of guys did really well."

Cole Irvin allowed five runs and seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five innings. He threw 78 pitches, 48 for strikes, and his ERA rose to 8.10.

"I thought I executed some really good pitches," Irvin said. "Felt really good today. ... We got the win. That's all that matters. We were in it, hitters came back, never feel like we're out of it anyway. Good team win."

Holliday fielded his first ground ball with one out in the second inning and Romy Gonzalez on first base. He made a clean scoop and flipped to Gunnar Henderson to start the double play.

It wasn’t all roses. Holliday chased Tyler O’Neill’s fly ball into shallow right-center field in the third inning, called off Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander, reached for it with his back to the infield and missed. Jarren Duran scored from first base, with Holliday unleashing a throw to the plate that Adley Rutschman leaped to catch.

"I was going out there," Holliday said. "With the wind kind of pushing in, I knew that it had a chance to come back in. Obviously, I would have liked to make the play, but it was a tough one and it's good experience, right? It's going to happen again and just to be able to learn from that and not let it happen again is my takeaway."

Before the first pitch, Holliday drew a cross in the dirt behind second base as part of his usual routine.

"I wouldn't be here without Jesus, honestly," he said. "Just His love that He's had on me and blessed me with the ability to play baseball and to be here today. I wouldn't be anywhere without Him."

Holliday reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, beating the throw to first base after grounding to Pablo Reyes. He came to the plate in the sixth after the Orioles rallied for two runs against reliever Isaiah Campbell and had two men in scoring position with no outs, and he bounced out to bring home Cowser, who waited in front of the dugout for the fist bump.

After running the count full in the seventh, Holliday struck out swinging at a cutter to complete a seven-pitch at-bat.

"It's fun to watch him make his debut. It's always a special moment," Hyde said. "He drove in a big run for us, so contributed that way. I'm sure to be 20-years-old and go through the pressure and the build-up and all the stuff he had to go through today, I bet he's probably glad it's over and relieved and looking forward to playing tomorrow."

“Super exciting,” Westburg said. “Our lockers are right next to each other – me, Gunnar, Adley, Cowser and Jackson. There’s not a more excited stretch of guys in the clubhouse like right now. We have each other on the same club again. We’re all smiles today. We’re just trying to keep him level, but he’s so mature that he handled it really well.

"I didn't tell him anything before the game, like tips. I know Cowser's told him to just breathe when you get out there, but to me he seemed like he was the same person that I saw in spring training. ... It seemed like it didn't faze him and I think that speaks to his maturity, his confidence in his own game. And it helps when you've been around a ballpark your whole life. I think he kind of knows what to expect, knows how to handle tonight's game, and I'm excited for him and his career."

"Obviously, my results weren't what I'd like, but I wasn't nervous," Holliday said. "I felt comfortable on defense and I felt comfortable at the plate. I felt like I took some good swings and just wasn't able to capitalize on some of them."

At 20 years and 128 days old, Holliday is the youngest player to debut for the Orioles since pitcher Dylan Bundy (19, 313) on Sept. 23, 2012 in Boston, and the youngest position player since Manny Machado (20, 034) on Aug. 9, 2012 against the Royals. He’s the first high school player to reach the majors from the 2022 draft.

"Obviously, I would have liked to have gotten a few hits, but I mean, the overall experience was pretty incredible tonight," he said. "To be able to go out there and win and have an RBI, it's pretty awesome just to be here.

"Just getting to compete against these guys that I've watched on TV for so long. It's really cool standing out looking around the Monster and all the people and they're singing the songs. It was a really cool experience." 

His family wasn’t going to miss it.

Father Matt, the seven-time All-Star outfielder, called in a favor to a friend and flew on a private plane after striking out with Delta and American.

“Sometimes you have to spend that token, so I did it,” Matt said. “I’m probably forever in debt to him, but that’s fine.”

They woke up at 4 a.m. and boarded 45 minutes later.

“It’s not easy getting from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Boston in a short notice, but we figured it out and got here,” he said. “I don’t think the kids got much sleep last night. We had to leave pretty early in the morning, so everybody’s running on fumes a little bit.

“It’s exciting. I’m really happy for him. It’s what he’s always wanted to do and it’s kind of surreal that he gets to come out here and play on this field. He’s been on this field. I think he’s already signed the Wall when he was a kid. I’m just really happy for him. I’m excited that he’s met his goal of getting here and now the goal is to play well and be a good player on a winning team.”

Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton told Holliday about his promotion and to phone his father.

“It was cool,” Matt said. “I was actually watching his game on my phone. We were out to dinner after Ethan’s game. I thought, wow, he’s calling me pretty quick after the game. He doesn’t show a ton of emotion. He just said, ‘Hey, I’m going up.’ It was great. He’s pretty steady, so he wasn’t really wild, but I could tell how excited he was. From there, it was trying to figure out how to get here and the logistics of it.”

Jackson tried not to make eye contact with his family.

"They're just sitting right there," he said. "I think Kevin Millar hooked them up with some good tickets. It's really cool to be able to have them there and I'm happy they were able to make it."

Matt played his first game in 2004 with the Rockies.

“It’s always different,” he said. “You get a chance to watch your kids pursue their passion, and he’s wanted to do this as long as I can remember. It’s always more fulfilling to watch your kids achieve things than to do it yourself.

“He just plays with a lot of joy because he loves to play and I enjoy watching him.”

The Orioles didn’t have any fun trying to hit Crawford, who moved up a day to face them. They didn’t get a hit until Ryan Mountcastle singled with two outs in the fourth and Ryan O’Hearn on first base. Mullins walked to load the bases and Cowser struck out.

The bases were loaded again with two outs in the fifth. O’Hearn got ahead 3-0 and bounced out with the count full.

Crawford shut out the Orioles on two hits in five innings and lowered his ERA to 0.57.

O’Hearn started the seventh inning rally with a one-out single. Henderson tripled to lead off the eighth and was stranded. Austin Hays came off the bench with two outs and lined to deep center field at 103.8 mph. He’s 2-for-27.

Irvin gave up back-to-back singles to Triston Casas and Gonzalez in the fourth, struck out Reyes, retired Masataka Yoshida on a ground ball and surrendered a two-run single to Connor Wong on a two-strike changeup. Irvin retired the first two batters in the fifth, walked Rafael Devers and surrendered a two-run homer to Casas on the third straight sinker of the at-bat.

Casas’ ball traveled 341 feet to left field at a 42-degree angle, an out in every ballpark except three, per Statcast.

Every Orioles starter has gone at least five innings.

"The two runs in that fourth inning, I shook to a changeup, it was executed out of the zone and it was just the wrong pitch at the wrong time," Irvin said. "Second and third and he's probably trying to shoot the ball the other way, so I kind of fed into the game plan a little bit. Just bad shake there, which is completely my fault."

Mike Baumann struck out three batters in the sixth and Keegan Akin struck out three in the seventh. Akin returned for the eighth and retired the side in order with another strikeout. Cowser made two running catches in left and slammed his body against the wall.

Akin has thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts.

The comeback from a five-run deficit to win was the largest since they rallied from a six-run deficit on May 27, 2022 in Boston. Five of the seven wins are come-from-behind, and they lead the majors with 53 since the start of 2023.

"Even though they're young, we have guys who are going to be able to take walks, going to be able to keep the line moving," Hyde said. "We had a lot of really good at-bats in those couple innings and we got fortunate to get some big hits. Jordan obviously with a huge hit. They're really talented guys and they have the ability to hit the ball to all fields and take walks. Just as they get more experience, they're going to be good players."

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