BALTIMORE—The Orioles tied a dubious record on Wednesday night. However, most of the modest crowd of 9,872 focused on a second straight victory after enduring an eight-game losing streak.
Whit Merrifield, the Kansas City Royals’ excellent second baseman, homered against starting pitcher Aaron Brooks in the third inning. That was the 258th home run allowed by Orioles pitching this season, equaling the 2016 Cincinnati Reds for most surrendered in a season.
Fortunately, the Orioles didn’t allow another one, and hit four of their own in an 8-1 win over the Royals.
“We’ve given up a ton of homers,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “What’s the record … 258? So, if it’s 259 or 330, I don’t care. I just want us to get better on the mound and obviously 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, but home runs are up.”
Jonathan Villar hit a two-run shot in the second, his 17th, and Anthony Santander (12th) and Renato Nunez (28) hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth against Mike Montgomery.
For the second straight night, Hanser Alberto hit a three-run home run, his ninth. Alberto has a 10-game hitting streak. Alberto, who’s hitting .401 against left-handers, didn’t have a hit in three at-bats against Montgomery. His homer came against lefty reliever Tim Hill.
“I think that was the right time because [that’s] my last at-bat against a lefty in the game,” Alberto said. “And I don’t waste time. Go up there and see a good pitch and swing.”
Stevie Wilkerson had a career-high three hits and drove in the third run of the second inning, the only run that wasn’t driven in on a home run.
Aaron Brooks won his first game as an Oriole in his eighth start. It was his first win since April 11 when he beat the Orioles while with the Oakland Athletics.
Brooks worked five innings, allowing Merrifield’s record-tying home run among seven hits.
“I had no idea,” Brooks said. “Obviously, I’m kind of new here so stuff like that I don’t really know. I think as competitors we try to go out there and not think about that type of thing.”
Paul Fry, Shawn Armstrong and Richard Bleier followed with four hitless innings.
Bleier acknowledged the home run record was talked about.
“I think we’re all trying to keep the ball in the park regardless of the record or anything like that,” Bleier 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.”
The series win was the Orioles’ first since July 25-28.
The Orioles are 41-86. A year ago, their 41st victory didn’t come until the 139th game, putting them 12 games ahead of 2018, when they lost 115 games.
The Tampa Bay Rays come to town for four games, beginning Thursday, and the home run record is likely to be broken sometime in this homestand.
“We play in a nasty division where guys are looking to launch the baseball and really, really good hitters,” Hyde said. “We just have to do a better job going forward so the past is the past with the home runs … we’re all tired of seeing them, and hopefully we can get better going forward.”
Harvey’s restrictive workload: Hunter Harvey, who earned his first major league win with a spotless eighth on Tuesday night, didn’t pitch, and that wasn’t a surprise.
Hyde said that he would “probably not” use Harvey on consecutive days in an effort to protect the right-hander who’s having a healthy season for the first time.
“There’s instances where I will, but we’re going to be pretty careful with him. I’m not going to throw that many innings throughout the rest of the year. Certain times, possibly, but probably not.”
The Orioles have an innings’ limit on Harvey, who was the team’s top draft choice in 2013.
“We have a number we’re going to stay within,” Hyde said. “I’m not going to pitch him every time we have a close game late, but pick my spots.”
So far this season, Harvey has pitched two innings in the majors and 75 2/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie. The 77 2/3 innings are 10 innings short of the 87 2/3 innings he threw in 2014 with Low-A Delmarva, his most as a professional.
Hyde wouldn’t speculate on whether Harvey will start in 2020 or stay in the bullpen.
“We’ll see,” Hyde said. “Finish this year healthy, and we’ll go from there.
“I just want to watch him pitch. And [learn] what it’s like to pitch out of the bullpen in the big leagues, so I’m going to pick my spots with him, throw him in different scenarios, different situations and monitor his innings and look forward to watching him the rest of the year.”
In his first two games, Hyde had him pitch the eighth inning and not enter during the inning.
“In Boston, I didn’t want him to come in in the middle of an inning,” Hyde said. “[Tuesday] night, I didn’t want him to come in in the middle of an inning, wanted him to start the inning. That’s what I prefer to do. Obviously, game situations stuff changes, but I would bring him in in the middle of an inning if necessary …”
Rutschman’s Delmarva Debut: In his first game with the Delmarva Shorebirds, Adley Rutschman was 0-for-2 with two walks in the Shorebirds’ 1-0 win over Greensboro.
Five Shorebird pitchers allowed just two hits.
Rutschman caught, and threw out a runner attempting to steal. He is scheduled to be the designated hitter on Thursday when he’ll talk to the media for the first time since his promotion from Aberdeen.
Delmarva won its 85th game, extending the team record.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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