Acuna, Braves help set MLB home run record for August

With 45 home runs, Atlanta Braves batters helped break the major league’s monthly home run record for the third time this year and are on pace to shatter the season mark with weeks to spare, part of a season in which strikeouts also are occurring at an unprecedented rate.

Batters hit 1,228 home runs hit in the majors in August, the Elias Sports Bureau said Sunday. That topped the 1,142 in June and 1,135 in May.

Six of the top seven home run months have been in the last three seasons. August 2017 is third at 1,119, followed by June 2017 (1,101), May 2000 (1,069) and May 2017 (1,060).

The New York Yankees hit a big league record of 74 homers in August — the previous mark for any month was 58 by Baltimore in May 1987 and Seattle in May 1999.

In 28 games in August, the Braves averaged 1.6 homers per game. Outfielder Ronald Acuna, who joined the 30-30 club in August, hit 11 of his 36 home runs last month. He hit five during a four-game streak — Aug. 6-9 — against the Twins and Marlins.

Minnesota set the season record Saturday with 27 games remaining, Mitch Garver’s second home run of the night, the Twins’ sixth of the game, raised their total to 268, one more than the New York Yankees hit last year.

Atlanta has hit 214 homers so far this season. The Braves’ biggest month was June when the team hit 56 homers in 28 games. The Braves’ team record for most homers in a season is 235, set in 2003.

Big league batters entered Sunday with 5,706 homers, 399 shy of the record 6,105 hit in 2017. They are on pace to hit 6,807 homers, 11% above the record and 22% more than the 5,585 hit last year.

Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels led batters with 43 homers, one more than New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso.

Batters struck out 7,132 strikeouts in August, five short of the monthly record set in May.

The Braves struck out an MLB record-tying 26 times against the Mets during a 14-inning loss in New York late August.

A year after strikeouts surpassed hits for the first time, whiffs remain ahead: 35,554 to 35,483. Batters are on pace to strike out 42,413 times, which would be a record for the 12th consecutive year and more than 1,000 above last year's 41,204.

The major league batting average was .254 through June. That is up six percentage points from last year's average, the lowest since 1972 — the year before the American League started using the designated hitter.