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With 35 games remaining, Orioles tie major league record with 258 home runs allowed

With 35 games remaining, Orioles tie major league record with 258 home runs allowed
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Aaron Brooks, left, reacts after allowing a solo home run to Kansas City Royals' Whit Merrifield, right, that tied a major league record for the number of home runs a team has surrendered in one season. (Julio Cortez/AP)

A season full of records the Orioles would rather not set continued Wednesday night when Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield homered in the third inning off right-hander Aaron Brooks, moving them into a tie with the 2016 Cincinnati Reds for the most home runs allowed in a season at 258.

Merrifield’s home run, which came in the Orioles’ 127th game of the 162-game season, cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-1 after Jonathan Villar homered and Stevie Wilkerson drove in a run with a double in the second inning.

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The next home run the Orioles will allow will give them the record all to themselves, but manager Brandon Hyde said it’s more about preventing them going forward than anything else.

“We give up a ton of homers,” he said. “If it’s 259 or 330, I don’t care. I just want us to get better on the mound and obviously, we have to finish this year and go into next year and try to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark and staying off the barrel. But home runs are up. We play in a nasty division where guys are looking to launch the baseball, and 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 hopefully we can get better going forward.”

By the modern game’s standards, the Royals might not have been the team best-equipped to push this Orioles team past the record. They averaged barely over one home run per game — 127 in 127 games entering Wednesday — and had hit the third-fewest in the majors.

It might be out-of-character for the visiting Royals, but not their accommodating hosts.

That’s all far more in line with what the 2019 Orioles have been all about. At 258 through 127 games, they’ve allowed more than two home runs per game. The Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, and Philadelphia Phillies all are on pace to allow more than the 2016 Reds, but nowhere near the Orioles’ pace, one that’s set plenty of records already.

They set the American League record for most home runs allowed in a season of 242 on Aug. 12 in New York, breaking a record set jointly by the 2017 Orioles and Chicago White Sox. They were the fastest team to allow 50 and 100 home runs in a season, and every amount of home runs thereafter by default. They allowed a record 62 home runs to the New York Yankees — the most any team has given up to a single opponent — and a record 13 to Gleyber Torres.

“We hear it a lot," reliever Richard Bleier said. "It’s not like we’re trying to. I think we’re all trying to keep the ball in the park, regardless of the record or anything like that. I just think home runs are going to become more and more prevalent, and we’re just not doing a good enough job of keeping the ball in the park. And everybody’s trying to hit them.”

They’ve allowed four or more home runs in more games (23) than they’ve had games without allowing one (21). Of the 33 true pitchers to appear in a game for them this year, only three — Nate Karns, Hunter Harvey and Chandler Shepherd — didn’t allow a home run. Karns pitched four times before going on the injured list and eventually being designated for assignment. Harvey pitched twice and Shepherd only pitched once in an Orioles uniform.

David Hess leads the way with 28 of the 258 allowed, with Dylan Bundy allowing 25 home runs and Dan Straily’s 22 home runs allowed in 47 2/3 innings a significant piece of this puzzle. Including Straily’s 22, 44 of the home runs were allowed by pitchers no longer in the organization, a list that also features Andrew Cashner, Mike Wright, Josh Lucas, Yefry Ramirez and Matt Wotherspoon.

An additional 12 were yielded by pitchers who are in the organization but were removed from the 40-man roster.

Those 258 home runs are distributed between 127 players, and every team the Orioles faced hit at least two off them.

The next record on the horizon, once they take sole possession of this from the 2016 Reds, will be the MLB record for most home runs allowed in August. The 2002 Colorado Rockies allowed 56 home runs; the Orioles entered Wednesday allowing 50.

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