Orioles explode for franchise-best eight home runs in historic outing
On Tuesday night, the Orioles became the first team since 2013 to hit eight home runs in a game, going yard eight times in a 19–3 demolition of the Phillies. Those 19 runs, meanwhile, were the most scored in a major league game since the Twins beat the Tigers, 20–6, last August, and the Orioles' 16-run advantage gave them the largest margin of victory since the Dodgers beat the Giants, 17–0, last September. The eight home runs set an Orioles franchise record (breaking the mark of seven most recently tied against the Blue Jays in September 2012) and made the O’s one of just 13 teams to have hit eight or more home runs in a game in the last century (which is as far back as the game data goes, but most likely means ever given the dearth of home runs in the game prior to the live-ball era).
Leading the Orioles’ charge against Philadelphia on Tuesday night was a player making his debut for the team: 27-year-old rightfielder Chris Parmelee. Parmelee hit 24 home runs in 273 games for the Twins over the last four seasons but elected to become a free agent when outrighted off their roster in December. He signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles in January and had hit .312/.381/.444 with six home runs in splitting time between first base, designated hitter and the outfield corners for Triple A Norfolk.
With Adam Jones due to miss a couple of games after hurting his right shoulder on a dive on Monday, the Orioles decided to take advantage of their plan to skip lefty Wei-Yin Chen’s next scheduled turn against the heavily righthanded Blue Jays this weekend by optioning Chen to the minors in favor of an extra outfielder. That outfielder proved to be Parmelee, who started in right and hit fifth Tuesday night, then proceeded to go 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs, an additional run scored and 10 total bases in his Orioles debut. I’m guessing he’ll be starting Wednesday night, as well.
Parmelee wasn’t the only Oriole with a multi-homer night on Tuesday, however, nor was he the first. Manny Machado accomplished the feat by homering to lead off the first and second innings, going 3-for-4 on the night with a walk, an RBI single and an extra run scored. He helped Baltimore knock out Phillies starter Jerome Williams before the first inning was over, scratching out five extra runs after Machado’s home run on Williams’s second pitch. The O's then hit three solo home runs off reliever Dustin McGowan in the second (by Machado, designated hitter Jimmy Paredes and Parmelee).
Jones’s weak-hitting replacement in center, David Lough, hit a three-run shot off McGowan in the third, and Chris Davis led off the fourth with another solo shot off McGowan, giving Baltimore leadoff home runs in three of the first four innings of the game and five home runs off McGowan in 3 1/3 innings of work. That ties the most allowed by any pitcher this season (Detroit’s Shane Greene surrendered five to the Angels on May 30) and the most allowed by a relief pitcher since the Brewers’ Andrew Lorraine gave up five to the Cubs in a very similar outing way back in 2002.
By the time McGowan left the game it was 13–1 in favor of Baltimore, but the runs kept coming against Justin De Fratus. The Orioles added one in the fifth, Parmelee’s second homer leading off the sixth (that’s four leadoff home runs in six innings) and two more later in that frame off Elvis Araujo after De Fratus was ejected for throwing at J.J. Hardy with his first pitch after Parmelee’s homer.
As it turned out, the only Phillies pitcher to record a scoreless inning in the game, as well as the only pitcher to get Parmelee out in the game, started in rightfield for them on Monday. Jeff Francoeur, always celebrated for his tremendous throwing arm in the outfield, experimented with pitching as a member of the Padres’ Triple A team last year, making eight relief appearances and posting a 3.68 ERA while striking out five and walking four in 7 1/3 innings. With Williams having lasted just 2/3rds of an inning, De Fratus having had his outing shortened by his ejection, and the team down 17–3, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg decided to find out how Frenchy would fair against major league hitters.
The initial results were remarkable. Throwing mid- to upper-80s two-seamers with nice arm-side run, a high-70s curve with a good drop and what looked like a mid-80s changeup, Francoeur struck out the first batter he faced, Nolan Reimold, on three pitches, all looking. He then got Parmelee to ground out to first, doing a nice job of covering first base on the 3–1 putout, and got Steve Pearce to hit a weak broken-bat pop out to shortstop for a 1–2–3 inning.
His second inning of work, however, didn’t go as well. Ryan Flaherty—who like Lough had just two home runs on the season coming into the game—homered on Francoeur’s first pitch of the eighth (that’s five leadoff home runs in eight innings). Two pitches later, Francoeur clipped Caleb Joseph with an 0–1 pitch, then, after getting Lough to fly out to center, walked pinch-hitter Matt Wieters on four pitches and Travis Snider on eight to load the bases. Paredes hit a deep sac fly to left to give the Orioles their 19th run, after which Francoeur walked Reimold on six more pitches, pushing him to 30 on the inning—a lot, even for an established pitcher.
Having only recently discovered the bullpen phone had been accidentally left off the hook, Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure went to the mound to check on Francoeur, where he was confronted by a ticked-off Chase Utley, clearly concerned about his teammate’s arm. Utley’s protestations aside, McClure, having not yet gotten his bullpen busy, had no choice but to let Francoeur face at least one more batter. That batter was Parmelee, who flew out to center on two more pitches. Francoeur finished with 48 pitches on the game, 18 more than were thrown by Phillies starter Williams, and a 9.00 ERA. However, the home run by Flaherty was the only hit he allowed to any of the 11 batters he faced in two full innings of work.
Francoeur wasn’t the only position player to pitch Tuesday night, by the way. In their 16-4 loss to the Nationals, the Rays used utilitymen Jake Elmore in the eighth inning and Nick Franklin in the ninth inning to mop up their mess. Elmore compiled 4 1/3 innings in the minors from 2009 to '11 but hadn’t pitched in a game since throwing a perfect inning for the Astros in '13, when he became just the 13th man in major league history to catch and pitch in the same game. Franklin had never pitched before as a professional. Nonetheless both had similar results, each giving up a home run to Wilson Ramos (the one off Franklin a two-run shot) then allowing two more ultimately harmless base runners. The six hits the two combined to allow, meanwhile, helped the Nationals reach 23 on the game, led by Danny Espinosa, who went 5-for-5 and was hit by a Franklin pitch in his final plate appearance. Those 23 hits were the most by a team in a single game this season. That might have been big news if not for what the Orioles did the same night.