The inevitable home run record was set tonight in the third inning. The watch is over. The only drama is in the final tally.
Taking an early lead was the first order of business for the Orioles, but they also had to deal with their place in baseball history.
The Rays’ Austin Meadows lined a curveball from Asher Wojciechowski over the railing in front of the flag court in right field with two outs for the 259th homer surrendered by the Orioles this season.
Move over 2016 Reds. There’s a new home run champion and their name is the Orioles.
Willy Adames tied the score by reaching the seats in right-center field with one out in the fifth and gave the Rays a lead with his two-run single in the sixth off Miguel Castro following a rain delay of 2 hours, 16 minutes. The Orioles tried to rally but fell short, losing 5-2 before an announced crowd of 8,153 at Camden Yards.
Only a few hundred people stuck around to watch the Orioles drop to 41-87 overall and 20-45 at home.
Meadows was down two strikes, ran the count to 1-2 and cleared the out-of-town scoreboard. The first full season of the rebuild keeps casting the Orioles in unflattering light.
Wojciechowski is responsible for 14 of the 260, including Adames’ solo shot, with tonight marking his 11th appearance and 10th start with the Orioles.
Meadows has hit two of his 22 homers this season against the Orioles. Adames has hit only one of his 16 against them.
Thirty-three of the 37 Orioles who have pitched this season contributed to the record, led by David Hess with 28. He’s now a starter at Triple-A Norfolk.
Pitchers Nate Karns, Chandler Shepherd and Hunter Harvey and catcher Jesús Sucre haven’t surrendered a home run with the Orioles. Only Hunter remains on the 25-man roster. Karns no longer is in the organization. Sucre is on the restricted list with Norfolk.
Whit Merrifield homered last night off Aaron Brooks to tie the Orioles with the Reds.
Hitting coach Don Long held the same job with the Reds in 2016, but nobody is blaming him.
Tonight marked the 152nd and 153rd homers allowed by the Orioles at Camden Yards, six short of the 1999 Rockies’ home record.
Castro was warming before the rain arrived and finally got into the game after play resumed. He walked Jesús Aguilar with one out, Matt Duffy doubled and both runners scored on Adames’ single into left field.
The fifth Rays run of the night scored in the ninth inning on Meadow’s double off Gabriel Ynoa and a wild pitch.
The Orioles scored twice off Ryan Yarbrough in the first inning, taking advantage of two errors by Adames.
Yarbrough retired 11 in a row after Renato Núñez singled with one out in the first. He hadn’t allowed a run in his last two starts over 15 innings, walking none and striking out 18, and the dominance returned after a shaky opening frame that wasn’t entirely his fault.
DJ Stewart led off the fifth with a double to break Yarbrough’s streak. Jace Peterson was batting with a 1-2 count and one out when the grounds crew began to unroll the tarp. The stats would become official later.
Former Orioles reliever Oliver Drake replaced Yarbrough and struck out Peterson and retired Alberto on a grounder to end the fifth. He stranded two runners in the sixth, winning a methodical 10-pitch battle with Jonathan Villar that lasted almost as long as the delay.
Colin Poche hit two batters in the seventh and former Orioles reliever Chaz Roe stranded them. Harvey had been warming, but sat down with the Orioles still trailing 4-2.
José Alvarado put the first two runners on base in the eighth inning and they moved up on Villar’s bouncer to third. Nick Anderson entered the game and induced two popups.
Can’t say the Orioles didn’t have their chances.
Wojciechowski walked two and struck out two in the first inning and retired the side in order in the second. Adames grounded out and Eric Sogard flied out in the third before Meadows shoved the Orioles past the Reds.
The Rays loaded the bases in the fifth after Adames’ homer, but Travis d’Arnaud popped up. Wojciechowski was removed at 96 pitches and the score tied 2-2.
The record already was set and a game would be lost. The only break came in the clouds.
Manager Brandon Hyde on whether game like this is taxing: “It’s not easy, but you play this long, you’re used to those types of situations. And we are in the big leagues, where we have a nice clubhouse that you can hang out in, so that’s not an excuse for coming out flat.”
Hyde on not scoring after first: “They have really good pitching and they have really good relievers. Yarbrough has been really good all year. I’m saying ‘really good’ a lot. Yarbrough is an outstanding pitcher and has pitched tough against us other times we faced him. Their relievers all throw 95 and up and pitch at the top of the zone and down below the knees. They make it hard on you. We just didn’t get much going offensively but we did have our chances late in the game. Couple runners on a couple innings. Just didn’t get the big hit.”
Hyde on Wojciechowski: “I thought Wojo threw the ball well. Just a couple of solo homers. Besides that, he gave up two runs through five innings. I thought he did a nice job. He’s done a nice job since he’s been here. Always kept us in the game and left in a 2-2 tie. We need Ty Blach to give us some innings tomorrow because we need a breather in the ‘pen.”
Hyde on home run record: “Congratulations? I’m a broken record when it comes to our homers given up. I don’t know what to say except we have a lot of work to do with our pitchers. And going forward to be able to compete in this division and in the big leagues you’re going to have to be able to keep the ball in the ballpark, and we’ve had a tough time doing that this year. “
Wojciechowski on whether pleased with start: “Yeah, I’d say so. I kept us in the game. We had a two-run lead. It’s pretty frustrating give up those two solo home runs, but I kept us in the game. They gave me tough at-bats all night. They really laid off some good sliders, some good pitches that I would have liked to get swings and misses at. They were disciplined at the plate tonight and drove my pitch count up.”
Wojciechowski on whether weather frustrated him: “Yeah, but tonight really wasn’t the case. I was at (96) pitches after five anyway, so I was pretty much done after that. A game like tonight is tough on the guys, just that long a delay and then dealing with wet field conditions. It’s frustrating, but we still competed. It just didn’t turn out right for us.”
Stewart on conditions: “It’s definitely tough. We were in a good groove, I felt like, and it kind of all cleared out the momentum that we had there. We had to come in here and wait, but we can’t control the weather. At the end of the day, it drives home that delays are part of it, so we need to come out and play, and unfortunately we couldn’t get it done.”
Stewart on leaving guys on base a frustration: Definitely. Any time we can get guys on, we want to drive them in. I didn’t do my job in that last inning. Had two guys on, two outs, and couldn’t get it done.”