Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck discusses the Orioles' 19-3 win over the Phillies. The Orioles had a team-record eight home runs in the game. (Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun video)
After Ryan Flaherty sent a record-setting home-run ball into the center-field bleachers at Camden Yards -- the exclamation point on the Orioles' 19-3 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday night -- he was getting heckled by his teammates inside the Orioles clubhouse.
Flaherty had just hit the Orioles' eighth home run of the night, their most in a game since arriving in Baltimore in 1954 -- a solo home run in the eighth inning coming off position player Jeff Francoeur.
As Flaherty conducted his postgame interview, an Orioles official stood nearby holding his historic home run ball -- its next stop likely a museum display case after Flaherty gave the fan who caught it an autographed ball in exchange. Flaherty had already admitted that his teammates gave him grief, saying his home run should bear an asterisk because it came against a position player. That's when Orioles reliever Darren O'Day yelled toward the scrum gathered around Flaherty's locker.
"Why don't you hit one off a pitcher?" he quipped.
Asterisk or not, the surging club achieved a feat Tuesday night that had never been accomplished in 62 seasons of Orioles baseball -- quite a feat regardless of the fact it came against the free-falling Phillies. The previous record of seven homers in a game was set three times, the last coming on Sept. 26, 2012.
The Orioles' 19 runs scored and their 16-run margin of victory were their most since a 23-1 drubbing of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 28, 2000.
Two Orioles -- Manny Machado and Chris Parmelee -- had two homers each. Six Orioles drove in multiple runs, including three who finished with three RBIs apiece, making for an Orioles dugout high on celebrations.
"There were a lot of high fives and a lot of sunflower seeds flying," said left fielder Travis Snider, who didn't homer but reached base five times in six plate appearances and drove in two runs. "Lot of smiles. It's definitely good to see the offense clicking and it's definitely something to build off of."
In winning for the eighth time in their past nine games, the Orioles (33-31) are now just two games out of first place in the American League East. They are also two games over .500 for the first time since they were 7-5 on April 19.
As for the home-run record, balls were flying out of Camden Yards at such a frenetic pace that it was difficult for even the players themselves to keep tabs.
"That's huge," said center fielder David Lough, who hit a three-run homer in the third inning. "I didn't even know that until you brought that up. We were hitting the ball great tonight. Seemed like home run after home run. Each inning -- I think we scored every inning besides [the seventh]. To be able to do that's already impressive enough and then being able to hit eight home runs in a game is pretty incredible. To be part of history, it's a pretty good feeling."
Parmelee, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Norfolk before the game, became just the second player in club history to hit two homers in his Orioles debut. Sam Horn also did it in 1990. Parmelee hit solo homers in the second and sixth innings while tying his career high with four hits.
"That was pretty special for me," Parmelee said. "My debut for this team and this year in general, it's a huge thing. But like I was telling you, you've got to carry it from day to day and try to keep that good positive mentality as best you can as long as you can."
The previous day, as he sat on the team's 24-hour taxi squad waiting to be activated, Parmelee had to watch the Orioles play from inside the clubhouse. Parmelee could have exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league contract Monday, but was summoned to Baltimore that day with the promise of joining the team.
"I've always loved playing here at Camden," Parmelee said. "Yesterday, I was actually sitting in here watching the game because I wasn't activated. That was torturous. Just watching the game from the TV knowing its 100 feet outside."
The fireworks began two pitches into the bottom of the first, when Machado homered to left off Phillies starter Jerome Williams for his first of two blasts on the night. Coming off being named American League Player of the Week last week, Machado recorded his third multi-homer game of the season.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis added his team-high 14th homer of the season, a mammoth solo blast in the fourth off Phillies reliever Dustin McGowan that landed on Eutaw Street and appeared to hit the B&O Warehouse on a bounce. It marked Davis' seventh career Eutaw Street homer, passing Luke Scott for the most by one batter.
After being swept by the Orioles in two games at Camden Yards, the Phillies had their first winless road trip of eight or more games since their inaugural season of 1883, when they went 0-9 losing to the likes of the Boston Braves and the Providence Grays.
"It was an ugly game at the end of a road trip with a losing streak," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I don't know what to say."
Not only do the Phillies (22-44) own baseball's worst record but they have lost 18 of their last 21 games and are already 22 games under .500 with nearly a month to go before the All-Star break.
On Tuesday, the Phillies managed just six hits. They lost Williams, their starting pitcher, in the first inning to a strained left hamstring suffered while covering home plate on a wild pitch. Francoeur was forced to pitch the final two innings for the Phillies, who couldn't call their bullpen for help with the bases loaded in the eighth because the bullpen phone was off the hook.
Overshadowed by the homer-happy offense, Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman notched his fifth quality start of the season, holding the Phillies to three runs on four hits over six innings. His only mistake was a two-run homer by Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco.
"It's fun to watch, fun to be a part of," Tillman said of the offensive outburst. "I think these guys are capable of that. I've said it a hundred times. You just have to give them a chance. Go out, get a couple quick innings and get these guys involved in a hurry."
Six of the Orioles' first seven batters of the game not only reached base but scored, as the club batted around in the first inning.
The first inning was a disaster for the Phillies. After Machado's homer, two Williams walks came around to score. The Orioles scored two runs on a wild pitch that ricocheted toward the Phillies dugout on the play where Williams pulled his hamstring covering home plate.
The Orioles hit three home runs in the second inning alone – solo blasts by Machado, Paredes and Parmelee off McGowan, who allowed five homers in just 3 1/3 innings.
Lough, receiving a rare start in center field with Adam Jones getting a day off, hit a three-run homer off McGowan, giving the Orioles a 12-0 lead in the third.
Parmelee's second homer of the game, which came in the sixth inning off reliever Justin De Fratus, tied the club record for home runs.
Immediately after allowing that home run, De Fratus ran a pitch inside to J.J. Hardy, prompting an ejection from home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale and forcing Francoeur into the game.
"It's just a weird night, and things happen," De Fratus said. "I know what it looked like, so all I [can do] is walk off the mound. What are you going to do? You can't argue it. It is what it is."
Flaherty then set the franchise record, sending a first-pitch delivery from Francoeur into the center-field bleachers.
"It's pretty exciting," Flaherty said. "Any time you're scoring runs like that and hitting home runs, it's a fun night. Obviously, it's not going to happen all the time, but you don't take it for granted. But it was a fun night. … We're playing good baseball and playing good defense and [getting] good pitching. Just try to keep it rolling."