Asked in his postgame media session Tuesday night about the Orioles tying the major league record for most home runs allowed in a season, manager Brandon Hyde interrupted his own answer to find out the total.
He wasn’t being coy. He wasn’t pretending to be out of the loop.
No one has to tell Hyde that his club surrenders home runs at an alarming rate. He watches from the dugout every night. But he hasn’t been tracking the number. He had no idea that the 2016 Reds were the leaders in the dubious category with 258.
“I don’t even know what it is. How many?” he asked.
The figure was passed along and repeated.
“So if it’s 259 or 330, I don’t care,” he said, not sounding like a manager whistling through a pitchers graveyard.
“I just want us to get better on the mound and obviously we have to finish this year and go into next year trying to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark and staying off the barrel.”
Asher Wojciechowski failed twice last night, with home runs by Austin Meadows in the third inning and Willy Adames in the fifth raising the total to 260.
Aaron Brooks surrendered No. 258 on Tuesday to the Royals’ Whit Merrifield to tie a record that he, too, seemed to know little about. A reporter joked, “It’s not your fault” while explaining the significance of the homer.
Brooks countered by taking some blame because he allowed 12 of them.
“I didn’t know. I had no idea,” Brooks said. “Obviously, I’m kind of new here, so stuff like that I don’t really know.”
Reliever Richard Bleier isn’t new and seemed more aware due to the chatter around the ballclub, but he also downplayed the impact inside the clubhouse.
“You know, we hear it a lot, I think, but it’s not like we’re ... I think we’re all trying to keep the ball in the park regardless of the record or anything like that,” he said.
“I just think home runs are going to become more and more prevalent and we’re not doing a good enough job of keeping the ball in the park and everybody’s trying to hit them. But we’re not really talking about it.”
Reliever Paul Fry said yesterday said the home runs aren’t tracked by the pitchers. They’re aware that it’s a hefty amount, but that’s about it. The record itself hasn’t consumed them.
They don’t print out copies of the 2016 Reds team photo or grill hitting coach Don Long, who held the same job in Cincinnati. Long has nothing to do with the pitchers, but it’s a strange coincidence.
“We know that numbers in MLB are up in homers, so it is what it is,” said Fry, who tossed two scoreless innings last night. “We’re all young, we’re all trying to go through things together and we’re learning on the fly. It doesn’t help that the balls may or may not be different this year or whatever, but I know the homer numbers are up, so we’re just part of that.”
Holding a record that Fry has contributed to by allowing five doesn’t appear to torment or embarrass the staff. The Orioles won’t wear it like a badge of honor. They’ll own responsibility for it. But they aren’t going to let it destroy them.
“It’s kind of like one of those, yeah, it’s in the record books but it’ll probably be broken one day,” Fry said. “That’s how baseball works, right? There’s records everywhere.
“We try not to think about it. Obviously we’re not trying to give up homers. You just try to keep the ball in the ballpark, keep it down and get outs.”
Shawn Armstrong also has surrendered five since the Orioles selected him off waivers from the Mariners on April 28. Asked about the record, he pleaded ignorance to it. The subject could have involved foreign affairs or maintenance of the space shuttle.
“I had no idea we were even close to it,” he said yesterday.
“I know what goes on in the clubhouse amongst us as a staff, us as a team. It’s just like a family. I try to keep my head and nose out of the TV and media about that stuff because it’s baseball. Everybody knows we’ve had a rough year and struggled. Obviously we’ve had more struggles than positives. But it’s a rebuild. We’re trying to lean on one another and help each other here.
“We’re still here every single day with one goal and that’s to win a baseball game. Regardless if we let up a home run or whatever it may be, at the end of the day we just want to try to win. I think that’s all of our goals. It’s not so much worrying about personal goals and everything. We’re just trying to finish strong together and be hopeful that we’re all going to be here together next year.”
Hyde hopes that the media will find another topic.
“I’m a broken record when it comes to our homers given up,” he said earlier this morning. “I don’t know what to say except we have a lot of work to do with our pitchers.”