Orioles prepare to take on Braves in first trip to SunTrust Park

ATLANTA — The Orioles will continue their six game interleague road trip this weekend with a three game set against the Atlanta Braves. Earlier this week the O’s dropped two of three against Washington. This didn’t come as too much of a surprise but it did mark the first time since 2007 that the Orioles have lost their season series to the Nationals.

In a season full of disappointment and frustration, this coming series against Atlanta might be one of the toughest to watch for O’s fans. Not because of the Orioles terrible offense and inconsistent pitching, but because of who is in the opposing dugout.

Nick Markakis currently finds himself in the middle of a career year at the age of 34. It also marks the final season of his four year deal with the Braves. These past four seasons have been filled with regret for the O’s as Markakis has continued to be a consistent force in the Atlanta lineup and almost seems to be getting better with age.

Markakis is batting .323 with 44 RBI’s and just 32 strikeouts so far this season. On top of all of this is the fact that the veteran right fielder will most likely be making the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. The accomplishment is long overdue but if there was ever a year where he was deserving, it’s 2018

Last meeting: These two teams have not met since 2015 when Markakis made his return to Camden Yards for the first time in a different uniform. The Orioles ended up walking away from that series with a three game sweep.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Friday, June 22, 7:35 pm – Alex Cobb (2-9, 7.14 ERA) vs Sean Newcomb (8-2, 2.70 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Saturday, June 23, 4:10 pm – Dylan Bundy (5-7, 3.81 ERA) vs Julio Teheran (5-4, 3.97 ERA) – MASN 2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Sunday, June 24, 1:35 pm – David Hess (2-3, 4.82 ERA) vs Mike Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.16 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • Adam Jones has been exceptional so far this season against national league opponents. Up until Thursday’s game against Washington, Jones had recorded at least one hit in every interleague game so far this season. Overall, Jones is batting .367 with one home run and four RBI’s in 12 interleague games so far this year.
  • Darren O’Day and Zach Britton both made their return to the O’s bullpen early this month. So far both have been able to jump back in and be highly effective. The duo has combined to strikeout 12 while throwing a little over eight scoreless innings since June 10.

Notes on Braves:

  • Markakis isn’t the only Braves player on a tear right now. Freddie Freeman should definitely be on the radar of every Orioles pitcher since he is also on his way to a career year at the plate. Freeman and Markakis both currently lead the national league in hits with 93 each.
  • The Braves will be happy to get Mike Foltynewicz back for this series. The Atlanta starter hit the ten day disabled list this past Sunday but he appears ready to return to the rotation this weekend. Foltynewicz is off to the best start of his career, with a 5-4 record and a 2.16 ERA through his first 14 starts.

Image credit: Carolyn Kaster / AP

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Kevin Huerter drafted by Atlanta Hawks with 19th pick in 2018 NBA draft

Kevin Huerter was faced with a tough decision just a few weeks ago. Stay at the University of Maryland for his junior year or declare for the NBA draft? On May 30, Huerter surprised many with his announcement that he would be forgoing his final two years at Maryland to declare for the NBA draft.

The decision was initially met with both support and criticism but on Thursday night it all paid off as Huerter was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 19th overall pick. Huerter becomes just the third player from Maryland to be drafted in the first round in the last ten years. Alex Len was taken with the fifth overall pick in 2013, marking the only other first round selection to come out of the Mark Turgeon era.

The Terrapins suffered a disappointing 2017-18 season after losing some key players to injury, but through all that frustration Huerter was a constant bright spot. The sophomore averaged 14.8 points, 5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game but really made himself a threat by shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the three point line.

Just a few months ago Huerter was not on the radar of many NBA scouts. However, the 19-year-old was invited to the NBA combine in May where he put on a show in shooting drills and five-on-five scrimmages. By the end of those four days in Chicago, Huerter had the attention of every scout and a lot of major media outlets as well. All of sudden his name was showing up in mock drafts and there was almost a unanimous sense around the league that he would be a first round pick.

The only thing holding Huerter’s draft potential back was a torn ligament in his right hand. It was reported that Huerter suffered the injury while playing Northwestern this past February, but it was not serious enough to sideline him. A few months later the injury in his shooting hand was still lingering, but it didn’t seem to have a negative impact on his combine performance.

Last week Huerter announced he had undergone surgery to repair the injury but would be sidelined for two months as a result. This might have turned some teams away but others in the media believed Huerter had already done enough to secure a spot in the first round.

Image credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Series Recap: Orioles lose two of three in D.C. to open up six-game road trip

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A 3-0 win on Wednesday gave the Orioles their second victory in three days, but it was not enough to win them another series as the Birds dropped two of three at Nationals Park, leaving D.C. 21-52 overall.

Game 1 (9-7 WSH): Check out Nolan McGraw’s full recap of game 1 here.

Game 2 (3-0 BAL): The Orioles registered their fourth shutout win of the season, limiting the Nationals to five hits. Making his return off the 10-day disabled list from a back injury, Andrew Cashner cruised through the first four innings, allowing just three hits and striking out two. In the second inning, Jonathan Schoop singled to lead off the inning, and then Mark Trumbo crushed his fifth home run of the season to left field to give the Birds a 2-0 lead.

Unfortunately after the fourth inning, some rain/inclement weather conditions delayed the game for two hours and 43 minutes, which actually eclipsed the total duration of the game, which was two hours and 34 minutes. When the fifth inning finally began around 10:50 pm, the Orioles were retired 1-2-3. But in the sixth, Adam Jones hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a Manny Machado fly-out to Bryce Harper. Harper also caught Danny Valencia‘s ensuing fly-out, but Jones scored the third and final run of the ballgame, giving the Orioles a 3-0 lead they would not lose.

The Nationals threatened twice in the final four innings, but went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine on-base. Against Miguel Castro in the sixth, Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon walked with one out, but Harper popped out to Machado and Daniel Murphy grounded out back to Castro for the final two outs. In the ninth following a line-out by Harper, Michael A. Taylor and Trea Turner singled off Brad Brach, who came into the inning after Zach Britton retired Harper. Wilmer Difo lined out to Schoop for the second out, but then Brach loaded the bases by walking Brian Goodwin. Mark Reynolds represented the potential winning run for Washington, but struck out looking on a 94-mph Brach fastball to give the O’s their second win in three games.

Game 3 (4-2 WSH): Hours after being activated off the 60-day disabled list (left hip flexor strain), Colby Rasmus, batting sixth and playing right field, hit a solo home run off Max Scherzer to put the Orioles up 1-0 in the top of the second inning. It was Rasmus’s first home run since May 27, 2017, when Rasmus was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

In Washington’s half of the third inning, Difo led off with a single, and then Pedro Severino doubled to advance Difo to third. Scherzer followed that by striking out, and then Harper got Difo home on a fly ball to Jace Peterson in left field, tying the game at one.

The Orioles did not take long to get their lead back. In the top of the fourth, Mark Trumbo added his sixth home run of 2018, this one to centerfield. This marks Trumbo’s first career homer versus Scherzer in 16 at-bats.

In the Nationals’ portion of the sixth inning, Rendon hit the third home run of the game, and the first for Washington with a solo shot to centerfield, again with Gausman pitching. Gausman ended up exiting after the sixth inning, allowing two runs on four hits, four walks, and three strikeouts in his 15th start of the season.

After Gausman’s exit, Mychal Givens entered to pitch the seventh inning. Givens allowed Difo to hit a leadoff triple, but got Severino to ground out and Murphy to hit into an inning-ending 9-2 double play. Murphy hit a line-out to Rasmus in right field. Rasmus hurled the ball to Caleb Joseph at the plate, who applied the tag on Difo to get Givens out of it.

An inning later, Givens would not find similar success. The first hitter of the inning, Harper, doubled to get the newest Washington threat going. Harper shifted over to third when Turner singled to Jones in centerfield. After Givens struck out Rendon, Soto doubled to Peterson, scoring both Harper and Turner. Closer Sean Doolittle retired the side in the ninth, recording his 20th save of the season.

Up next: The Orioles continue their road trip in Atlanta against the Braves in what marks the O’s first time playing at Suntrust Park since the stadium’s inception in 2017. The Orioles will see a familiar face in Atlanta, Nick Markakis, who as of Jun. 19 led All-Star Game voting for National League outfielders. Markakis has never been named to an All-Star Game in his now 13-year career.

The Orioles have not played the Braves since 2015 when the Birds swept Atlanta in a three-game July series at Camden Yards. Friday’s game begins at 7:35, Saturday’s start time is 4:10, and first pitch for Sunday is slated for 1:35.

Image Credit: Carolyn Kaster, Baltimore Sun

Orioles can’t hold on to early lead, drop series opener to Nationals 9-7

WASHINGTON, D.C — After salvaging a win over the Marlins on Sunday, the Orioles (20-50) made a trip down the beltway to face the Washington Nationals (38-32). When these teams met back in late May, the Nationals walked away with a sweep. The O’s interleague rival picked up where they left off and won Tuesday’s series opener 9-7 thanks to some timely offense. The win also secured the Nationals first season series victory over the O’s since 2007.

The Orioles got shutout twice in that previous series but came out of the gates on Tuesday looking to makeup for it. Thanks to a pair of two-run homers by Jace Peterson and Trey Mancini, the O’s were able to take a 4-1 lead in the fourth. The Birds added a fifth in the following inning by taking what Nationals starter Jefry Rodriguez was giving them.

Rodriguez, who was making his first major league start, wasn’t finding much success early on. He completely lost control in the fifth by walking David Hess and Peterson to start the inning. Rodriguez could not get settled in after this and proceeded to hit Adam Jones in the next at bat to load the bases.

The Orioles should have gotten more out of this situation, but Manny Machado grounded into a double play. The at bat managed to bring Hess home but it also quickly put an end to a potentially big inning. As the game progressed, this developed into an even bigger missed opportunity.

Hess was stout early on in his start and looked like he was on his way to a quality start. However, the 24-year-old rookie ended up falling apart in the fifth. Just like Rodriguez did in the top of the fifth, Hess opened the inning by loading the bases. Hess had a little breathing room to work with, but that was erased fairly quickly after giving up a two-RBI single to Adam Eaton.

The Nats grabbed another two runs with a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rendon and a double by Bryce Harper. Just like that, the game was tied and Hess’ night came to an end.

The O’s offense didn’t waste any time getting the lead back in the sixth but once again there was a big missed opportunity as Jonathan Schoop led off the inning with a triple. Later in the inning Mancini hit a ground ball back to the mound and Schoop got caught in a rundown. The Orioles loaded the bases once again but only managed to push one run across with a fielder’s choice.

This slim lead would not last long in the hands of the O’s inconsistent bullpen. Tanner Scott entered the game to pitch the seventh but the Nationals batters continued to dominate at the plate. A two-RBI double by Rendon gave Washington the lead once again and they would continue to pile on runs after chasing Scott out of the game. Mike Wright was brought in to try to put out the fire but that didn’t go over well. Wright doesn’t often find himself in these high leverage situations, and for good reason.

As you might expect, Wright was not able to escape the inning without giving up two additional runs. One was credited to Scott but it doesn’t really matter as both relievers failed to maintain the lead the offense had given them.

The O’s went into the final two innings down 9-6 and that was just too much for the offense to overcome. Joey Rickard‘s solo homer made it a 9-7 game in the ninth, but that was all the offense could muster. Nationals closer Sean Doolittle recovered from the mistake and managed to finish off the inning for his 19th save of the year.

Image credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images

Series Preview: Orioles vs Nationals

WASHINGTON- The Baltimore Orioles head to DC to take on the Washington Nationals in a three game set at Nationals Park starting Tuesday evening in the Nation’s Capital. It is the first series in what will be a six game road trip for the Orioles who will head to Atlanta for a three game set after the series against their Beltway rivals.

The Orioles (20-50) will look to build off of a 10-4 victory against the Miami Marlins on Sunday.  Dylan Bundy (5-7, 3.81ERA) recorded the win for the Birds going six innings giving up four earned runs run on five hits while striking out five and walking just two.  The Orioles dropped two of three to the Marlins. Check out the series recap by Nolan McGraw for further details.

The Nationals (38-32) come into the contest after splitting a game and a half with the New York Yankees on Monday night.  The Nationals and the Yankees resumed a May 15 game that was suspended due to rain and the Nationals took that game 5-3.  The Yankees took game two of the unconventional match up 4-2.

Last Meeting: In the last meeting of the Battle of the Beltway, the Nationals recorded a three game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore from May 28-30.  The Nationals took game one of that set 6-0 with Gio Gonzalez going 7.2 innings to pick up the win for the Nats.  Game two of the series saw the Nationals victorious 3-2 with former Orioles Mark Reynolds and Jeremy Hellickson leading the way.  The Nationals completed the three game sweep with a 2-0 shutout led by ace Max Scherzer who went 8.0 innings giving up no runs on two hits while striking out 12.

The Orioles lead the all time series between the two clubs 38-29.

Game Times and Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Tuesday, June 19, 7:05pm- David Hess (2-3, 4.13ERA) vs. Jefry Rodríguez (0-0, 0.00ERA) –MASN, MASN2 105.7 The Fan

Game 2: Wednesday, June 20, 7:05pm- Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.98ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.01ERA)-MASN, MASN2, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3: Thursday, June 21, 7:05pm- Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.48ERA) vs Max Scherzer (10-3, 2.06ERA)- MASN, MASN2, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on Orioles:

  • The Orioles were the last team in Major League Baseball to reach the 20 win plateau with their 10-4 victory over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon. To put that into perspective, Orioles AL East rivals the New York Yankees picked up their 20th win on May 2 and the Boston Red Sox got to that number on April 29.
  • The Orioles are just 9-27 on the road this season which puts them on pace to win just 20 games on the road all season.  That would tie the Orioles with the 2012 Houston Astros for the fewest road wins in a season since 2010.
  • Orioles catcher Chance Sisco was scratched from the line up an hour before the game with a reported illness and has reportedly been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Sisco is batting .218 in 47 games played for the Orioles.

Notes on Nationals:

  • Nationals slugger Bryce Harper is struggling in what is the walk year of his contract.  Harper is hitting just .212 on the season and is 1-24 in his last 25 plate appearances.
  •  One of the brightest spots for the Nationals this season has been 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto.  Soto is hitting .325 with six homers and 14RBI in 25 games played with the big league club.
  • The Nationals pitching staff boasts a 3.38 team ERA which is good for third best in the MLB.

Image Credit: USA Today

Podcast Episode 4: Pop the champagne, Chris Davis has been benched!

Welcome to Episode 4 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with Nolan McGraw and Jake McDonnell. Things sound a little different this week with Nolan hosting the show as Jake enjoys his vacation.

The podcast begins with a look at a few of the famous figures in Baltimore to wear the number four in their career. The guys follow that up by diving right into a few of the big Orioles stories from this past weekend, including Chris Davis being benched and the Orioles interviewing Ned Colletti.

After discussing the tough news surrounding Richard Bleier and his injury, the guys transition into some Ravens talk. Lamar Jackson got the opportunity to run the offense during practice this past Thursday which quickly caught the attention of the national media. Nolan and Jake give their opinions on Jackson’s progress thus far and comment on the media circus forming around the rookie QB and starter, Joe Flacco.

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Please leave us a review, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode!

Washington Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz Resigns

WASHINGTON- Eleven days ago head coach Barry Trotz and his Washington Capitals had just put the finishing touches on the team’s first ever Stanley Cup championship in 44 year of existence. Since that moment, DC has been riding this momentum through championship celebrations including last Tuesday’s parade that saw upwards of 100’s of thousands of Capitals fans flock to DC to be part of the party.

And in blink of an eye, the momentum was dashed. The Washington Capitals announced today that Barry Trotz had resigned from the club and would be moving on effective immediately.

It has since been reported by various sources that the moment that Trotz guided the Capitals to the championship, a two year contract extension worth roughly $2 million per year had kicked in.  Unfortunately for the Capitals, this contract extension language was agreed upon in 2014 prior to the explosion of NHL head coaching contracts that started with Mike Babcock in Toronto and Joel Quenneville in Chicago.

Both of those former Stanley Cup winning coaches make upwards of  $5 million per season.  It is also being reported that both sides attempted to renegotiate the terms of the extension but the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement and ultimately Trotz chose to resign.

The real question is what does this mean for the Washington Capitals moving forward. It is widely expected that assistant coach Todd Rierden will be promoted to head coach with Trotz’s decision to resign. Rierden has been with the club since 2014 and he has largely been considered the coach in waiting.

Reirden

Image Credit: Sportsnet

According to Nick Kypreos, Rierden was in consideration for the head coaching vacancies in Arizona, Buffalo, and Florida last off-season and Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan denied interview requests for those teams to speak with Rierden. Many saw this revelation as an indication that perhaps Barry Trotz wouldn’t be back in Washington, Stanley Cup or not.

It is also important to note that on April 15, the Capitals were trailing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 in the best of seven series and on their way to another playoff disappointment.

Many fans and prominent reporters have also criticized Trotz throughout the season for questionable line up decisions and his unfaltering loyalty to struggling veteran players such as Brooks Orpik and Alex Chiasson among others. Often times, Trotz would scratch promising youngsters like Christian Djoos, Andre Burakovsky, and Jakub Vrana in favor of these veterans. All three younger players played a key role in the Caps finally climbing the Stanley Cup mountain.

It is unknown where Trotz will head next.  The only head coaching vacancies in NHL right now are the position that Trotz just resigned from and the New York Islanders. Trotz finishes his impressive four year tenure in Washington with a record of 205-89-34, which was good for the best record in the NHL.

Image Credit: Sporting News