All-Star pitchers face off for Cubs, Orioles

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Houston AstrosJun 22, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Corbin Burnes (39) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs suddenly have things going their way again, and they will look to build on their recent momentum in the second game of the interleague series with the host Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

The Cubs romped to a 9-2 win on Tuesday night in the series opener, racking up 14 hits. Chicago has won four of its past five games, its best stretch since a four-game winning streak in late April.

The latest outcome was only the third victory in Chicago’s past nine road games.

The Wednesday game will feature a pitching matchup of 2024 All-Stars: Cubs left-hander Shota Imanaga (7-2, 3.16 ERA) and Orioles right-hander Corbin Burnes (9-3, 2.32).

Imanaga gets the start with an extra day of rest after he was pushed back from Tuesday night after Chicago had Monday off. The 30-year-old rookie hasn’t pitched since July 3, so he should be well-rested for his final start before heading to the All-Star Game in Arlington, Texas, next week.

“It’s really about his attitude,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “He has a great attitude every single game. He’s a learner. He wants to get better. He’s curious. All those things keep him moving forward and get him past the tough moments. He wants more. He always tries to do a little better.”

Imanaga, the first Cubs rookie to be an All-Star since Kris Bryant in 2015, is searching for his first victory since June 15. He will be opposing Baltimore for the first time.

Burnes will make a second attempt at reaching the 10-win mark. He had a no-decision on Thursday after logging six innings and allowing two runs in the Orioles’ eventual loss to the host Seattle Mariners.

“An honor to be selected,” Burnes said after being chosen as an All-Star for the fourth consecutive year. “People helped me get there. Obviously, a lot of work behind the scenes with staff and coaches.”

Burnes became familiar with the Cubs during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. He is 2-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 16 all-time appearances, including 10 starts, vs. the Cubs, who have homered eight times in 69 innings against him. Only the St. Louis Cardinals, with nine, have more homers vs. Burnes.

The Cubs gave Hunter Bigge his major league debut Tuesday night, and the right-handed reliever pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and threw a 100 mph fastball.

“When I was running out there from the (bullpen), I got goosebumps, very surreal,” Bigge said. “It feels like a dream.”

Counsell said the Cubs were waiting for the right time to call up the 26-year-old Harvard product, who went 1-0 with six saves and a 0.77 ERA in 11 appearances for Triple-A Iowa this year.

“You’re always trying to improve your staff,” Counsell said. “Certainly, Hunter’s calling card is velocity.”

Despite the loss in the opener of the six-game homestand, the Orioles received good news Tuesday. Infielder Jordan Westburg was added to the American League team for the All-Star Game as a replacement selection for injured Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers.

“It was a great moment,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said.

Westburg, who hit his 15th homer of the season Tuesday night, is an All-Star for the first time.

“This is exciting new plans,” he said of the break. “I don’t mind changing the schedule up a little bit and being in Arlington.”

–Field Level Media