BALTIMORE — Somewhere, the Cincinnati Reds are toasting.
On Thursday at Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles surrendered their 259th home run of 2019, breaking a tie with the 2016 Reds for most roundtrippers allowed by a team in a single season.
The record-breaking bomb came in the top of the third inning of Baltimore’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, when Austin Meadows sent a 1-2 curveball from O’s starter Asher Wojciechowski just barely over the out-of-town scoreboard in right field for his 22nd dinger of the season. A former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, Wojciechowski came into the contest having allowed 12 homers in 49 innings.
Entering play Thursday, the Orioles were on pace to yield 329 longballs. With power numbers up across Major League Baseball, Baltimore isn’t the only team that has been giving up taters at a record rate. Through Wednesday’s games, the Mariners, Angels, Yankees, and Phillies were all on target to surpass the ’16 Reds.
Nearly a quarter of Baltimore’s historic 2019 total has come against the division rival Yankees. In 19 games against New York, Orioles pitchers surrendered 61 home runs, shattering the mark for most allowed to one team in a single season.
This season, 3.7% of all MLB plate appearances have resulted in home runs, up from 3.0% a year ago. Compared to 2014, when the leaguewide rate was 2.3%, home runs have increased by roughly 60%. If the current rate holds throughout the rest of the season, it would break the all-time single-season record of 3.3%, set during the 2017 campaign.
The rebuilding Orioles began play on Thursday in last place in the American League East, owners of a 41-86 record that was second worst in the majors. Their team ERA of 5.89 was the highest in baseball by nearly half a run.