O's game blog: Jordan Westburg's MLB debut, plus Holliday and Kjerstad to the Futures Game

After winning the last two games against Seattle by 6-4 and 3-2 scores to take another series, the Orioles welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Camden Yards tonight as this homestand continues. The clubs open a three-game series tonight.

The game will mark the big league debut of O's prospect Jordan Westburg, who will bat seventh and play second base in the series opener. 

The Orioles (47-29) are the current No. 1 wild card team in the American League. But they are second in the AL East and 4.5 games behind Tampa Bay.

The Orioles are 2-1 on this homestand, have won four of their past six and 10 of the last 15 games. They are now 16-7-2 in series play for the year, 8-3-1 in home series and 24-14 at Oriole Park in 2023. Sunday’s win improved them to 8-4 in rubber match games.

With win No. 47, the Orioles matched the season-long win total of the 2018 Orioles, a club that went 47-115.

The Orioles are now 13-8 in one-run games and 10-4 in two-run games, making them a very solid 23-12 (.657) in games decided by two runs or less

O’s pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs nine times in the last 15 games. O’s starting pitchers have allowed three earned runs or fewer 14 times in the last 15 games with a rotation ERA of 3.71 in that span. They have done that in 23 of the last 25 games with a rotation ERA of 3.90 in that stretch.

Westburg was batting .295/.372/.567/.939 this year with 15 doubles, two triples, 18 homers and 54 RBIs at Triple-A Norfolk. He produced 40 doubles, 36 homers and an OPS of .899 in 158 games with the Tides since early last June.

Westburg, drafted No. 30 overall by the club in the shortened 2020 MLB Draft, is ranked as the sport's No. 34 prospect by MLBPipeline.com and No. 41 via Baseball America. 

Click here for Westburg's pregame media interview and quotes from earlier today at Camden Yards.

In addition to Westburg’s debut tonight, this series will allow fans a close-up look at sensational Reds' rookie infielder Elly De La Cruz, just 21 years old from the Dominican Republic. He is ranked as baseball’s No. 1 prospect by Baseball America and is No. 2 via MLBPipeline.com behind the O’s prospect Jackson Holliday.

Signed for just $65,000 as an amateur from the Dominican, in 17 games with the Reds he is batting .333/.395/.594/.989 with five doubles, two triples, three homers, eight steals, 18 runs and 10 RBIs. He went 0-for-5 Sunday in a loss to Atlanta but is still batting .429 (15-for-35) his past eight games.

Today he was named the latest National League Player of the Week. 

In Friday's 11-10 win against the Braves, he became the seventh batter in Reds history to hit for the cycle and the first since Eric Davis did it on June 2, 1989 against San Diego. De La Cruz became the fifth-youngest player to hit for the cycle, according to Elias Sports. And he is the first player since 1900 to produce in his first 15 career games at least 20 hits (22), five stolen bases (7) and three home runs (3).

Cincinnati (41-37) is in first place in the NL Central by one-half game over Milwaukee and three games over the Chicago Cubs. The Reds' had a 12-game win streak snapped Saturday and they lost the last two games of their series with Atlanta by identical 7-6 scores. But they are 12-2 the last 14 games and 15-4 in their past 19.

Since beginning the year by going 7-15, the Reds are 34-22 (.607) the last 56 games. The Reds have won five straight road series and have not won six in a row since 2010.

The Reds are 6-9 all-time vs the Orioles, including 5-4 at Great American Ball Park and 1-5 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Reds’ 15 regular season games vs Baltimore are their fewest against any other MLB team.

Cincinnati went 1-2 at Camden Yards in 2011 and took a three-game series sweep loss in their most recent meeting in 2014. In 2011 the Reds played in Baltimore for the first time since the 1970 World Series and Baltimore was the last city the Reds visited during interleague play.

Lefty Cole Irvin (1-3, 7.71 ERA) gets the start for the Orioles. The team is 2-3 in his starts, the last of which came June 16 at Wrigley Field when the Cubs hit three homers against him in the third inning. He allowed five hits and three runs in four innings and the homers allowed tied his most in any single game.

Lefty Brandon Williamson (1-0, 5.40 ERA) starts for the Reds, his eighth start of the year. He gave up three earned runs in five innings in his last two games against Kansas City and Colorado. 

Futures Game players announced: The Orioles will send two players to the All-Star Futures Game in Seattle. They are infielder Jackson Holliday of the High-A Aberdeen IronBirds and outfielder/first baseman Heston Kjerstad of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

The rosters were announced tonight for the 24th such contest set for Saturday, July 8, at 7 p.m. ET at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.

Holliday began this year with Low Single-A Delmarva and moved up to Aberdeen in late April. In 63 games between the teams, he has hit .325/.463/.531/.994 with 14 doubles, six triples, seven homers, 56 runs, 20 steals and 47 RBIs. Holliday has walked as many times as he has fanned (57).

The 19-year-old son of former big league All-Star Matt Holliday was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.

He will be joined in Seattle by Kjerstad, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft out of the University of Arkansas.

Kjerstad began his year with Bowie and moved to Norfolk and in 63 games between the two clubs has hit .304/.377/.579/.956 with 15 doubles, 15 homers and 28 RBIs. 

Delayed start in Baltimore: As 7 p.m. approached at Oriole Park, the tarp was coming off the field but the game will have a delayed start. First pitch is expected to be at approximately 7:20 p.m.





Westburg withstands delays to make impressive debu...
Henderson and Hyde talk about Westburg's promotion...

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