We knew the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles would be in for another long, non-competitive season.
What we didn’t anticipate was the true extent of how overmatched their pitching would be, and how quickly their staff would smash a dubious MLB record.
In Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore pitching surrendered its 259th home run of the season. By reaching that mark, the team has officially broken the league record for the most home runs allowed by a team in a single season.
Asher Wojciechowski has the unfortunate distinction of being the man to throw the pitch. Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows did the home run hitting with a third-inning solo shot.
Austin Meadows hits the 259th home run of the year against the Orioles. That's the new all-time single-season Major League record.— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) August 22, 2019
Asher Wojciechowski served it up.
One inning later, Willy Adames made it 260 (and counting) with a solo home run.
It’s a record no team wants to be associated with. Unfortunately for the Orioles, it’s one they might have to wear for awhile. That’s because the calendar hasn’t even flipped to September yet. The team still has 34 games remaining on the schedule, which guarantees they will leave the previous record in the dust.
On pace to allow 329 home runs
How bad could it get for Baltimore?
They entered play on Wednesday allowing 2.03 home runs per game, which puts them on pace to allow 329 home runs for the entire 162-game season.
On the surface, a pace like that might not seem sustainable. But there are a couple things to consider here. First and foremost, if they've sustained it to this point, what's stopping them from continuing or even getting worse? Beyond that, there's been quite an increase in home runs league wide that’s showing no signs of slowing down, either.
As ESPN notes, the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies are all on pace to soar past the previous single-season record, which was held by the 2016 Cincinnati Reds.
Struggles against Yankees
On the bright side, the Orioles will not have to face the New York Yankees again this season.
Incredibly, nearly a quarter of the damage has been inflicted by New York In 19 games against the division rival Yankees this season, the Orioles have surrendered a total of 61 home runs.
It should come as no surprise that those 61 home runs shattered the previous record for most home runs by a team against a single opponent during the course of one season. It's also no shock the Orioles won just two of those 19 matchups. Or maybe it’s more of a shock they won any at all.
Is the baseball the biggest reason for Baltimore's futility?
With the league on pace to shatter the overall home run record, it's clear this isn't just a one-team problem.
The focus throughout the season has been on the baseballs. The term "juiced" is the most popular used to describe these baseballs, which are leaving the park faster and farther than ever before. It's clear something is different. Even commissioner Rob Manfred has had to admit that much. And whatever different might be is a major contributing factor to every home run record that has or will fall this season.
With that in mind, the Orioles may have been poised to challenge the record anyway. The pitching staff is extremely thin, and was destined to be overmatched on most nights regardless of the circumstances. Perhaps 300 home runs wouldn't be in play with a more "normal" baseball. But the Orioles were always going to fight an uphill battle.
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