OAKLAND, Calif. — There was a chance these Orioles would fill the All-Star Game with representatives. Instead, Baltimore wound up with fewer players than last year.

The Orioles went from six All-Star finalists to three representatives — with right-hander Corbin Burnes the lone addition Sunday after catcher Adley Rutschman and shortstop Gunnar Henderson were named starters Wednesday.

The drop-off is somewhat of a surprise, considering the number of worthy players.

Closer Craig Kimbrel is producing one of the best seasons of his career. First baseman Ryan Mountcastle led the popular vote in Phase 1 but missed out on a start in Phase 2 and now misses the game entirely. Designated hitter Ryan O’Hearn, third baseman Jordan Westburg and outfielder Anthony Santander were runners-up in Phase 2 of fan voting, as well.

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“That was a big surprise,” right-hander Grayson Rodriguez said. “Came in after the start and realized that the rosters had been released. I want to say some stuff about that; I can’t. I think we should have had more than three All-Stars, for sure. There’s a lot of guys in that clubhouse that are deserving to be there.”

There is still the chance more Orioles make the American League roster as injury replacements. But for now Burnes, Henderson and Rutschman are the trio headed to Arlington, Texas, for the Midsummer Classic.

With the nomination, Burnes has made four straight All-Star rosters — and the feat isn’t lost on him, especially in the context of his career progression.

“Growing up, you just want to try to play professional baseball,” Burnes said. “Then, once you get into the pros, you want to play in the big leagues. For me, I never really dreamt of being an All-Star, winning a Cy Young. All those were just kind of afterthoughts, and just awards I guess for the work that we put in. Obviously, ’19 was a very tough year for me. So to bounce back and now have my fourth consecutive All-Star appearance is pretty special, just knowing from where I came from after that season, literally being one of the worst in the league, to figuring it out and now able to go to my fourth All-Star Game, is pretty special.”

Burnes wasn’t kidding. In 2019, he held an 8.82 ERA in 49 innings, and he allowed 3.1 home runs per nine innings. He went into 2020 with a meticulous routine after meeting with Brian Cain, a mental performance coach, in August 2019.

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The result included checklists for his baseball life and his personal life. He makes his bed in the morning, the first crucial step in preparing for excellence.

“It’s not only me; it’s the people who helped me get there,” Burnes said. “Obviously, a lot of work behind the scenes with staff and coaches and my family. My wife and kids putting up with it. It’s not easy being a big league wife, with the amount of travel and stuff we go through, so I appreciate her support and everything she’s gone through the past couple years.”

It remains to be seen whether Burnes will accept his place in the All-Star Game or use the break to spend time with his wife, son and newborn twin daughters. Burnes said Sunday that his wife, Brooke, told him to attend, but he’ll “see what the final decision is in the next day or so.”

Anthony Santander has 23 home runs, 57 RBIs and an .804 OPS. He was not named to the American League All-Star team. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

“It’s kind of one of those you never know when it’s going to be your last,” Burnes said. “So I understand my wife’s sentiments on me having to go to the game. We’ll see what happens, but definitely just an honor to be selected.”

Burnes certainly has pitched like an All-Star. Since arriving in an offseason trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, Burnes has been every bit the ace Baltimore hoped to acquire. He holds a 2.32 ERA with a 1.021 WHIP, and the former Cy Young Award winner has recorded 14 quality starts in 18 appearances.

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Entering Sunday, Burnes’ ERA was second in the American League, and only three qualified starters had conceded as few earned runs as Burnes (29). His strikeout rate of 8.4 over nine innings is lower than it has been in recent years, but that is by design as he aims to work deeper into games.

“Corbin’s been our leader this year,” Rodriguez said. “I think me and a lot of the other guys have learned a lot from him. I think that was one big thing about getting him here is how much better he’s going to make the clubhouse. I really think he’s helped our rotation, not just on the field but mentally. I think baseball is a mental game, and to be able to have a mindset to go out there and compete every fifth day, I think he’s kind of showing us the ropes for that.”

Burnes is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, which will be his final start of the first half. That lines him up to pitch in the All-Star Game on July 16. The starter will be chosen by American League manager Bruce Bochy. Should he be selected, Burnes would be Baltimore’s first All-Star starting pitcher since Steve Stone in 1980.

“If I’m given the chance to start, that’d be great,” Burnes said. “Obviously, never done it before. Not very many guys get the opportunity to start an All-Star Game, so that would be really cool, and to have Adley back there would make it even better.”

Overhanging, of course, are the perceived snubs.

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Kimbrel is tied for the third-most saves at 23 and holds a 2.10 ERA. Santander blasted his 23rd homer of the year Sunday, which is tied for fourth. Westburg is hitting .281 with an .831 OPS and yet the Texas Rangers’ Marcus Semien (.229, .673) got into the All-Star Game ahead of him. And there are more, even beyond that trio.

“Corbin for me is the best pitcher in the game. That was a slam dunk,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I’m disappointed a lot of the other guys didn’t get in. Hopefully things will happen and spots open, but I was disappointed. When you win as many games as we have in the last year and a half and you only get three guys in — and you’re on the pace we are on right now, and we won 101 games last year with a lot of the same group — you’d think that we’d get more guys in. I’m disappointed in that. But hopefully they’ll have All-Star second halves also.”