BALTIMORE -- Given the ground-floor state of the Orioles' rebuild, and the way baseballs have flown out of the park all across Major League Baseball this season, Baltimore has spent much of the summer brushing up against unfortunate homer history. Those two forces came to a head Thursday, when the O's allowed their 259th and 260th home runs of 2019 in their 5-2 loss to the Rays at Oriole Park. By doing so, they broke the all-time record for most homers allowed in a single season, a mark previously held by the ‘16 Reds.
A night after tying the record when Aaron Brooks allowed a solo homer to Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield, the Orioles set a new mark when Tampa Bay right fielder Austin Meadows took Asher Wojciechowski deep in the third inning. Wojciechowski then allowed No. 260 on the season when Willy Adames added a solo homer in the fifth.
“I’m a broken record when it comes to our homers given up,” O's manager Brandon Hyde said. “I don’t know what to say, except that we have a lot of work to do with our pitches.”
Adames had a hand in nearly everything that happened at Camden Yards on Thursday -- except the two-hour, 16-minute rain delay that prematurely ended the night for Wojciechowski and Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough. Adames committed two first-inning throwing errors that led to Baltimore’s two runs, then tied the game with his opposite-field tater and ultimately put Tampa Bay ahead with his two-run single off Miguel Castro an inning later.
The Orioles threatened in every inning after the delay, but they could not break through against the Rays’ bullpen.
“We had our chances late in the game, just didn’t get the big hit,” Hyde said. “I thought Wojo threw the ball well, just a couple solo homers.”
Said Wojciechowski: “It was pretty frustrating giving up those two solo homers.”
The O's now own two of the five highest single-season home run totals in MLB history, placing first (260 in 2019) and tied for fourth (242 in '17) on that list. The '16 Reds (258) and '17 Reds (248) sit second and third, respectively, though the Mariners, Angels, Yankees and Phillies are all on pace to allow more than 258 homers this season.
Each of the five highest single-season totals -- and seven of the top 13 -- have come in the past four seasons.
Entering Thursday, 5,357 homers had been hit across the Majors in 2019, already the ninth most for any season and on pace to shatter the record of 6,105 set in 2017. Each month so far this season has seen the league set an all-time record for homers in that month: March/April (1,144), May (1,135), June (1,142) and July (1,057).
“We give up a ton of homers. If it's 259 or 330, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care,” Hyde said. “I just want us to get better on the mound. This year and going into next year, we have to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark, staying off the barrel.
"Home runs are up. We play in a nasty division where guys are looking to launch the baseball and are really, really good hitters. We just have to do a better job going forward. The past is the past with the home runs. We’re all tired of seeing them, and we’re looking to get better.”