If there is one good thing to be said about the 2019 Orioles, it’s that they are making history almost on a daily basis. These achievements are often not the sort that anyone would want to brag about. They are records nonetheless. On Monday afternoon against the Yankees, on the way to losing 8-5, the Orioles set a new franchise record for home runs allowed in a season.
This is it. After allowing four home runs this afternoon, the Orioles have given up 245 home runs on the season, more than they have ever given up before. There are still 44 games to play, including one tonight. The major league record for homers allowed of 258, currently held by the 2016 Reds, is almost guaranteed to belong to the Orioles soon, possibly within a week of right now.
The latest Orioles loss was one of many this season where it did not take very long into the game to understand that it was going to be THIS sort of game. Lefty-slapper Hanser Alberto led off the game with a single and was eventually brought home when Renato Nunez hit a sacrifice fly to give the O’s a 1-0 lead.
The day’s sacrificial starter, Gabriel Ynoa, walked the first Yankee batter in the bottom of the first. The next, Gio Urshela, hit a slow ground ball to Alberto at third base that Alberto, to the audible disappointment of Jim Palmer on the MASN broadcast, chose to throw to second instead of first. Alberto’s throw was late and Jonathan Villar couldn’t catch it anyway; everyone was safe. A great third baseman might have even gotten a double play and a better one would have gotten the trail runner.
The next batter, Didi Gregorius, smacked a home run to deep center. The Orioles trailed 3-1 before ever getting an out, and Ynoa only got one out before allowing another home run, this time to Gleyber Torres, who has hit an unbelievable 11 of his 24 home runs against the O’s this season. Even as this happens on nearly a daily basis, it’s still tough to accept that it’s reality.
Give this to Ynoa: Although he was horrible, he did eat six innings in the game, always an important consideration for this battered pitching staff. If his outing had settled down after that first inning you might even be able to say actual nice things about it, though allowing a titanic 461-foot homer to Urshela in the fifth inning and a 404-foot homer to Cameron Maybin in the sixth really hurt. Ynoa gave up seven runs in six innings. There is nothing good about that except that at least he didn’t give up as many runs in only three innings.
What is sad about this game, or at least sad for anyone who hasn’t gone completely numb to the 2019 season, is that the Orioles had a real chance to win it if they hadn’t given up so many home runs. In spite of having given up so many home runs they still had a chance.
As miserable as the game’s early and middle innings were, the team managed to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the eighth inning as Yankees reliever Luis Cessa could neither throw strikes nor get outs. After Cessa loaded the bases with no one out and again with one out, the Yankees summoned former Oriole Zack Britton.
Even Britton ended up walking Jace Peterson, of all people, to force in a run and make the game 8-5. A bases-clearing double could have tied it and a home run could have given the Orioles the lead. There were no miracle hits on tap. Stevie Wilkerson grounded out and the inning was over. The O’s then went down in order in the ninth inning against Aroldis Chapman.
Is it a moral victory to force the Yankees to use Chapman in the first game of a doubleheader? Maybe. What it was not is an actual victory.
With seven hits and five walks in the game, the O’s had their chances. They were on base more than the Yankees batters, who added three walks to eight hits. Trey Mancini hit his 28th homer of the year for the O’s and Anthony Santander added his 10th in 57 games in the setback. The Orioles hit two solo homers and the Yankees had four homers, including a three-run homer. That was the difference.
Santander had a three-hit game. Alberto added two. These two plus Mancini were the top three batters in the lineup, so O’s 4-9 hitters went a combined 1-18 behind them. Villar had three walks in there, and Nunez, though he was 0-3, drove in a pair of runs.
Another game of the doubleheader awaits this evening, with more chances for the Orioles to give up more home runs. They surely won’t set the MLB home runs allowed record tonight, but another bad game would put them on pace to break the record before this series is out. Of course, the Yankees are already continually breaking their own record for most home runs against a single team in a season every time they hit another dinger against the Orioles.
The O’s are expected to call upon Ty Blach to start the game, or at least to have him pitch what manager Brandon Hyde called “the bulk of the innings.” Blach is not even on the 25-man roster right now, having been optioned to Norfolk after the O’s claimed him on waivers from the Giants on August 3. Good luck to him. He’s going to need it.