The Baltimore Orioles lost Manny Machado and 115 games in 2018 to finish 61 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. Soon after that they lost manager Buck Showalter, general manager Dan Duquette and the faith and goodwill of their fans.
They re-emerged this season with a rookie manager, Brandon Hyde, a first-year GM, Mike Elias, and issued a solemn pledge to begin the reconstruction of the once proud franchise, the team of Brooks and Boog, Palmer and Weaver, Ripken and Murray.
Let’s just say there weren’t a lot of expectations. Orioles fans aren’t pressing their noses to the incubator waiting for baby chicks to hatch.
Still, you’d have to admit, what’s happened so far is below the depths they thought even their team could reach.
The team’s pitching sucks. It really, really sucks.
On Tuesday at Camden Yards, the Orioles allowed their 100th home run in just the 48th game of the season. Projected over a full season, that would mean approximately 338 souvenirs.
The current MLB record for most dingers allowed in one season belongs to the 2016 Cincinnati Reds who allowed 258.
If you think that’s a lot of homers so early in the season, you would be correct. No team in MLB history has given up its 100th homer this quickly. The 2000 Kansas City Royals hit the century mark in game No. 57.
Let the record show it was Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier who hit No. 100, a three-run blast off Orioles starter David Hess. The shot, which carried 411 feet and increased New York’s lead to 9-0, was Frazier’s second of the game and third allowed by Hess.
The Orioles are already 15 ½ games behind the first-place Yankees with Memorial Day less than a week away. Their run differential is an absurd minus-105. The staff’s ERA is 5.74.
“We’re facing good teams, but you gotta pitch,” Hyde said. “You gotta pitch here. You gotta stay off the barrel. You gotta be able to locate. And if you don’t, in a hitter’s ballpark against guys that mash, you’re going to give up a hundred homers, 40-something games into it.”
Here’s a quick look at the biggest offenders. Hess has already allowed 17 homers in just 45 1/3 innings. That’s the most over nine starts of anyone in team history.
“That’s, simply put, not good enough,” Hess told The Baltimore Sun. “I think that kinda goes without saying. It is very draining, just because there’s a clubhouse of guys in here that I care about a ton, and so to have that feeling of not going out and getting the job done for them just as much as anything else, that really does wear you down.”
Dylan Bundy has been reached 11 times in 46 1/3 innings. Veteran Andrew Cashner, the alleged ace of the staff, has given up nine in 54 1/3 innings. It’s not a pretty sight.
But hey, the Orioles aren’t alone. The Seattle Mariners have allowed 87 homers in 51 games, a byproduct of the notable rise in round-trippers in MLB this season. Beginning play on Wednesday, hitters were homering in 3.4 percent of plate appearance, up from 3.0 in 2018.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, they have to play the Yankees 19 times this season. In 2018, New York set the MLB single-season record for homers (267). In their first 10 games against Baltimore, the Yankees have 29 bombs, 20 times in five games at Camden Yards.
“It’s what we’ve got right now. It’s not from lack of effort or lack of competitiveness,” Hyde said. “I don’t like to see guys getting beat up. I don’t like seeing guys give up homers. But they’re all getting the opportunity to bounce back from tough starts.”
But why despair? Hall of Fame lefthander Warren Spahn gave up 434 homers in his career. And Bert Blyleven, another Hall of Famer, gave up 50 in 1986.
Look at it this way: The Orioles have future Hall of Fame pitchers.