Apr 02, 2024

⚾ Orioles late homer spoil Wacha's debut with win over Royals

Posted Apr 02, 2024 10:15 AM
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Monday, April 1, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Monday, April 1, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Jordan Westburg hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to carry the Baltimore Orioles past the Kansas City Royals 6-4 on Monday night.

Westburg's opposite-field drive to right came on an 0-2 pitch from Nick Anderson (0-1) after the Royals rallied to tie the game in the top of the inning.

“I really wasn't trying to do too much, just trying to move the ball and get to the next man (in the lineup)," Westburg said.

Instead, the second-year infielder put an end to a tight contest.

“That was the coolest moment of my career so far,” Westburg said. “I've never had a walk-off in all my years I've played baseball. To have my first one here in Baltimore is pretty special.”

Ryan Mountcastle homered and drove in three runs for the Orioles.

Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez homered for the Royals, the second straight game in which each went deep.

With the score tied at 3 in the eighth, singles by Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman put runners at the corners with two outs for Mountcastle, who reached on an RBI infield single when first baseman Nick Loftin couldn't handle the throw from the shortstop Witt.

That gave closer Craig Kimbrel (1-0) a chance to seal the victory in his Baltimore debut. But Kyle Isbel singled, and pinch-runner Dairon Blanco stole second and third before scoring on a fly ball by Maikel Garcia.

Westburg delivered in the bottom half. He leaped in joy after rounding first base and was drenched in water after arriving at the plate.

“It just an euphoric feeling, seeing that ball go over the wall,” he said.

Making his Kansas City debut after signing a two-year, $32 million contract in December, Michael Wacha gave up three runs in five innings. The only three hits he allowed came in succession in the fourth, when Baltimore bounced back from a 3-0 deficit to pull even.

“Good one to build off of,” Wacha said. “I felt like I had good command of stuff early, and carried it toward the end of my outing as well.”

Orioles starter Dean Kremer allowed three runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Witt hit a solo shot in the third and Perez added a two-run drive to put the Royals up 3-0.

Rutschman doubled leading off the Baltimore fourth, Anthony Santander followed with an RBI single and Mountcastle went deep.

“Our guys went out and put up a three-spot, and as a pitcher you want to be able to hold that lead,” Wacha said. “It was frustrating giving it right back to them a couple innings later.”


The Orioles fumbled two grounders for errors in the first inning, but a pair of superb fielding plays kept the game tied in the seventh. After Nelson Velázquez hit a one-out double, Mountcastle dived to snare a grounder past first base and beat Isbel to the bag. Henderson then charged to pick up a short-hop grounder to shortstop and threw out speedy Maikel Garcia.


Orioles: LHP John Means (elbow) began his rehabilitation assignment by yielding two homers and seven runs in one-plus innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. “The numbers didn't show great success but he felt good physically,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Monday. “That's what matters in any rehab, for sure.”

Royals: INF Michael Massey (lower back strain) is “progressing well” and could begin a rehab assignment “in the next few days,” manager Matt Quatraro said.


There's rain in the forecast Tuesday night, when Orioles starter Cole Irvin is scheduled to face the Royals and Alec Marsh, who lost his first eight decisions as a rookie last year before finishing 3-9.