Podcast Episode 28: ‘Astroball’ author Ben Reiter lays out blueprint for how Elias & Mejdal will rebuild the Orioles

Image Credit: Eutaw Street Report 

Welcome to Episode 28 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

The guys spend the first 45 minutes of the show talking all things Ravens. First, Jake, Nolan, and Ian revisit Baltimore’s 26-16 win over the Falcons from this past Sunday (3:30). You’ll also hear an extended Ravens quarterback debate (9:20) as our team has differing opinions on whether Lamar Jackson or a healthy Joe Flacco should lead the Ravens offense to (hopefully) the team’s first playoff berth in four years. As we do every week, we’ll go over Who’s Trending (30:49) and some things to watch for on Sunday as the Ravens enter Arrowhead Stadium for a 1:00 pm tilt with the #1 seed in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs (39:39).

71TL+MlkkTLUp next, we welcome in our special guest for Episode 28 – Ben Reiter, author of Astroball: The New Way To Win It All (45:44). There’s no one better to tell Orioles fans everything they want to know about Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal than Reiter, who’s written a book detailing the processes Elias and Mejdal implemented to rebuild the Astros under Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow. Along with going over the storyline of Astroball, Reiter gives specific examples of how Elias and Mejdal used analytics. Reiter also provides some insight into how these same techniques will be used to rebuild the Orioles. It’s a must-listen interview for all Orioles fans eager to see what Elias and his team can do.

After Reiter’s call-in, Nolan and Ian jump back in, reacting to the Milwaukee Brewers decision to non-tender former Oriole fan-favorite Jonathan Schoop (1:05:18). Don’t worry, the gang also talked about Caleb Joseph and Tim Beckham being non-tendered by the Orioles too.

With the Maryland men’s basketball team off to a hot 7-1 start, the next part of the show takes a look at Mark Turgeon’s 2017-18 team (1:14:00). With the Terps making the Top 25 last week, the guys lay out their season projections for a talented, young Maryland team.

To wrap up the show, we dive into our weekly numbers segment, taking a look at the best Baltimore sports athletes to wear the number 28 (1:25:22).

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play. Please leave us a review on iTunes, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

The Charm City Bird Watch Podcast is brought to you by Seven Sports Bar & Grille. For a limited time only on behalf on Charm City Bird Watch, you can receive a 10% discount off any entree dish when you tell your server or bartender the promo code Charm City.’

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Orioles get back on track with three wins against Yankees in New York

Coming into this weekends series against their division rival, the Orioles had lost five games in a row and were desperate for a win. The O’s would break their streak with a win on Friday before picking up a pair of extra inning wins to take the series 3-1.

Game 1 (5-2 BAL): The Orioles started this weekend’s marathon series with their best overall performance of the season. More importantly, they picked up a win to end a five game losing streak. Andrew Cashner got the start for the O’s and turned in a great performance to get his season back on track. The newly acquired starter struggled in his Orioles debut last week but found a great deal of success against the Yankees, giving up just two hits and one run in six innings of work.

Despite having such an exceptional night on the mound, Cashner was close to earning a no decision as the O’s offense had failed to score through the first six innings. Luckily for Cashner, the Birds bats came to life in the top of the seventh to make him the pitcher of record.

Yankees starter, Masahiro Tanaka had handled the Orioles very well but started to fall apart when the Baltimore lineup came around for their third round of at bats. Johnathan Schoop got the inning started with a single in an eight pitch at bat. After losing that battle to Schoop, Tanaka quickly gave up a two run homer to Adam Jones. Just like that, the Orioles had taken the lead but they were not done yet.

Another single by Tim Beckham chased Tanaka out of the game but Chad Green did not fare any better in relief. An RBI double by Anthony Santander and two RBI single by Trey Mancini capped off the five run inning for the O’s.

Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach closed out the game, allowing just five base runners and one run in their combined three innings of work. After blowing an opportunity on opening day, Brach earned his first save of the season.

Game 2 (7-3 BAL): After getting things back on track in Thursday’s series opener, the Orioles needed to build on it and keep the momentum going. It wouldn’t be easy and it certainly wouldn’t be quick but after 14 innings of high intensity baseball, the Orioles picked up a win in an instant classic.

Both starters were not spectacular but handled their business in their time on the mound. Kevin Gausman followed in Cashner’s footsteps to give himself a rebound outing while CC Sabathia’s night was cut short due to a hip injury. The Yankees veteran pitcher had given up three runs through his first four innings but had only thrown 58 pitches. It’s safe to say that the Yankees would have liked to get a few more innings out of their starter considering the length of the game.

Both bullpens, on the other hand, were exceptional. The five relievers that pitched for the O’s combined to give up just one run on two hits. That lone run came via a solo homer by Didi Gregorius in the eighth inning. Pitching wasn’t the only thing the O’s relievers did to save the game though. Mychal Givens came through with a huge defensive play to keep the game alive in the bottom of the eleventh.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Givens lost control of a pitch and sent one bouncing toward the backstop. With Gregorius barreling toward home plate for the winning run, Caleb Joseph was able to gather the ball quickly and flip it to Givens who ran off the mound to cover the plate. Givens extended his leg as if he was stealing a base, blocking Gregorius’ path in the process. Everything about the play was perfect, except for the wild pitch that caused it, and took place in a matter of seconds.

The Yankees would come back with a potential game saving play of their own in the thirteenth inning. In another two out situation, Caleb Joseph was at the plate for the O’s and he would end up getting a great pitch to hit when Jonathan Holder let a fastball sail high in the zone. Joseph sent the ball deep to right field but Aaron Judge was able to get a good read and follow it all the way to the wall before making a swift leap to rob the O’s of a go-ahead homer.

With the game already lasting well over five hours, the Orioles finally had enough in the fourteenth inning. After getting bailed out by Judge, Holder returned to the mound looking to keep the game tied. This time he would not be as lucky. The Orioles quickly loaded the bases with a Trey Mancini walk, a Manny Machado single and a perfect bunt by Jonathan Schoop. Adam Jones came to the plate next and battled with Holder for a six pitch at bat. Holder would end up retiring Jones on a controversial strikeout call that left the O’s captain furious.

Pedro Alvarez was up to bat next and before Jones could even calm himself in the dugout, the Orioles designated hitter sent a rocket to right field on the very first pitch he saw. The grand slam gave the O’s a huge 7-3 lead which they would hold through the bottom half of the inning for a thrilling game two win.

Lost in the madness of extra innings was a spectacular night for Manny Machado. The Orioles shortstop saw seven at bats on Friday and reached base in six of them with two home runs.

Game 3 (8-3 NYY): Friday nights game didn’t end until well past midnight which isn’t the biggest deal in the world, especially since the Orioles took home a win, but both teams were asked to make a quick turnaround as game three was slated for an early afternoon start.

It was a close game through the first five innings. Chris Tillman was once again far from dominate but put the Orioles in a position to win. With the game tied at three, the Yankees were able to take a lead by jumping on Tillman as he came back out for the sixth inning. Gregorius got the rally started with a four pitch walk and it was all down hill from there for Tillman as he faced four more batters and only retired one.

The Yankees kept that momentum going in the seventh inning, scoring three more runs off of Jimmy Yacabonis who had been called up earlier in the day. On the other hand, the New York bullpen was stellar after getting taxed heavily the night before. Adam Warren, David Robertson, and Luis Cessa combined to give up just two hits while closing out the final three innings.

Game 4 (8-7 BAL) : After three tough games it was only fitting that Sunday’s series finale followed suit. The O’s started the game by digging themselves into a hole when Mike Wright gave up five runs and recorded just two outs before being yanked from the game by Buck Showalter. It’s difficult to pull a starter extremely early, especially when you have had to use your bullpen a lot in recent games.

That decision by Showalter would pay off though. The Orioles went on to slowly chip away at the Yankees five run lead over the next four innings. RBI singles by Beckham and Santander got the O’s back on track before Danny Valencia made it a one run game with a two run homer in the fifth inning.

The orioles bullpen did a great job at coming in and keeping the Yankees under control while the offense made their comeback effort. Pedro Araujo finished off the first inning and worked through the third before turning it over to Miguel Castro and Tanner Scott who both gave up a run a piece.

After getting a run back in the sixth the O’s took their first lead of the game in the seventh. Danny Valencia got on base with a walk and Anthony Santander followed with a two run shot to give the Birds a 7-6 lead. Domingo German fell behind 3-0, giving Santander the green light for the first home run of his career.

That lead would not last too long though. In the bottom half of the seventh the Yankees were able to tie the game up at seven with an RBI single by Austin Romine. The game would remain tied through regulation, sending the two AL east rivals to extra innings for the second time this weekend.

In the twelfth inning the Orioles dug in against Adam Warren. A walk by Pedro Alvarez and a single by Anthony Santander put two on for Craig Gentry with two outs. The utility outfielder battled Warren for an intense, ll pitch at bat that ended in an RBI single for Gentry.

Brad Brach came on to pitch the bottom half of the inning and quickly walked the first two batters. The Orioles closer followed that with an error while trying to field a bunt by Brett Gardner. The huge mistake loaded the bases with no outs and brought Aaron Judge to the plate.

The game looked all but over but Brach was able to get an unconventional double play by throwing out the lead runners at home and third on a short grounder by Judge. With one more out needed Brach settled in and got Giancarlo Stanton to strike out for the fifth time in the game, capping off another thrilling extra inning win.

Up next: The Orioles will return home early this week for a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. These early season AL East matchups are tough but could prove to be big as the season progresses.

Image credit: Julie Jacobson / AP