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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Podcast Episode 3: Nothing can JUSTIFY how bad the Orioles are

Welcome to Episode 3 of the new Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell and editor Nolan McGraw.

The guys kick off the show today talking about two monumental events in the Baltimore/D.C. sports community – the Washington Capitals winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and Justify becoming the 13’th Triple Crown winner.

Ravens mandatory minicamp is underway this week, with the team holding three mandatory practices through Thursday. What did Nolan and Jake take away from the first day of camp?

Not much changes through the weeks when it comes to the Baltimore Orioles. The team now holds a 19-47 record, but no changes have been made as of now. The Charm City Bird Watch gang discusses Buck Showalter’s questionable managing decisions and the returns of both Zach Britton and Darren O’Day.

Last but not least, the return of one of our many new segments, Don’t Be A Jerk! Which sports figure will Jake call out this week for being a jerk? Listen and find out!

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!

Orioles swept by blue jays in four game weekend series

Game 1 (5-4 TOR): The Orioles opened up their series against the Blue Jays with a disappointing loss in extra innings. David Hess took the mound and once again gave his team a great chance to win by allowing just one run through six innings of work. Through his first five starts Hess is 2-2 with a 3.07 ERA. Thursday’s start also marked the third straight outing where he gave up one run or less.

Most pitchers would walk away from those three starts with a 3-0 record, but not Hess. Through his first four starts, Hess only received two runs of support per game and that’s obviously not a recipe for success. On Thursday the Orioles lineup actually showed up for their starter and scored four runs. It may have taken them a while to get the offense going but the support was there none the less.

Unfortunately, Brad Brach could not hold on to a 4-1 lead. Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier both worked an inning of relief and gave up just a hit each. When Brach came in for the save, he quickly ran into trouble. After getting the first out, Brach walked a batter and then gave up a double to put two runners in scoring position. Randal Grichuk brought them both home with double to make it a 4-3 game.

Buck Showalter opted to keep Brach in the game despite the shaky performance which ended up being a mistake. Brach failed to settle down and walked another batter before allowing a single to load the bases. An RBI single by Kevin Pillar tied the game and Showalter finally made a pitching change. Miguel Castro came in and worked out of the jam by inducing a double play to force extra innings

The pitching change kept the game alive for the O’s but certainly came too late. This is not the first time Brach has struggled this season in the closing role. With wins coming at a premium, Showalter’s decision is definitely confusing.

The controversial decisions continued as Showalter opted to let Castro come back out for the tenth inning. The reliever started the inning by putting two runners on but immediately followed it up with a pair of strikeouts. Castro would not finish off the inning and escape the jam this time though. Aledmys Diaz came up to the plate and delivered an RBI single to left field, completing the 5-4 walk off win.

Game 2 (5-1 TOR): Check out the full recap of Friday night’s game by Ian Schultz.

Game 3 (4-3 TOR): The Orioles played another extra inning game on Saturday and once again suffered the agony of a walk-off loss. It was a slow start for both offenses with only one run being scored in the first five innings. Kevin Gausman and Aaron Sanchez traded punches through their six-plus innings of work before turning it over to the bullpen.

Down 2-0 going into the seventh, the O’s offense finally came to life and pushed two runs across when an RBI double by Chance Sisco was followed by an RBI single by Adam Jones.

The Blue Jays responded with a solo home run by Grichuk in the next inning. The Toronto outfielder had a great series against the O’s this weekend by going 8-for-16 at the plate with two homers and five RBI.

A wild pitch by Tyler Clippard allowed Jonathan Schoop to score in the eighth and once again tie the game up. The score would remain tied at three through the ninth before these two teams entered extra innings for the second time this series.

The O’s did have a chance to take the lead in the ninth by getting Jones and Manny Machado on the corners with one out. However, in the ensuing at bat Jones misread a ground ball and was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. The mistake may have cost the O’s a chance at a win in regulation but the bullpen continued to be a liability as the game continued.

Mychal Givens came in to pitch the tenth inning and proceeded to get two outs but also load the bases. Luke Maile stepped up to the plate and was quickly fed three balls outside the zone. In this scenario there isn’t a reason to swing and Maile did just that as ball four sailed up in the zone. It wasn’t the most exciting walk-off for Toronto but they all feel the same when you’re on the losing end.

Game 4 (13-3 TOR): Facing their first four game sweep of the season, the O’s were desperate for a win in Sunday afternoon’s finale. Unlike the extra inning thrillers on Thursday and Saturday, the O’s did not hang around with the Blue Jays and found themselves on the wrong end of a 13-3 blowout.

Alex Cobb got the start for the O’s and surrendered nine runs in just 3.2 innings. Cobb has had quite a few awful starts this year but this one stands as one of the worst. The nine runs allowed ties Cobb’s career high and inflates his ERA back up to 7.23. Pedro Araujo entered the game after Cobb and failed to stop the bleeding by allowing four more runs in just one inning of work.

Mike Wright and Darren O’Day combined to close out the final three innings but the damage had already been done. Even in the blowout loss it was nice to see O’Day return to the bullpen after spending most of May on the disabled list. The submarine pitcher struck out two while retiring the Blue Jays on 17 pitches in the eighth.

The O’s offense actually struck first on Sunday with a solo home run by Trey Mancini in the second inning. The Orioles would not get another until the seventh when Schoop did the same thing. The third and final run came later that inning when Jace Peterson picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice.

Up next: The Orioles return home on Monday to open a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox. This will be the Red Sox’ first visit to Camden Yards in 2018. The two AL East teams have met twice already with the Red Sox leading the season series 6-1.

Image credit: Baltimore Sun

Series Preview: Orioles make first trip to St. Petersburg for weekend tilt with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — After going 3-5 over the first eight games of an 11-game road trip, Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette’s apparent plan to “evaluate” following Memorial Day weekend remains a possibility. The Orioles (16-34) have struggled mighty on the road thus far in 2018, playing to a 6-21 record away from Camden Yards. The Rays got off to a rough 3-12 start, but ended the month of April with a 13-14 record and have basically played .500 baseball since, now 23-25 on the season. Like it always is in the American League East, the Rays will not go down without a fight against a struggling Baltimore ball-club.

So, Mr. Duquette, be ready to “evaluate” early next week if this weekend does not go well.

A look at the standings: Speaking of the AL East, the Rays come into the weekend 10 games behind the Red Sox (34-18), who lead the division by one game ahead of the Yankees (31-15). The Blue Jays (23-27) sit 11 games back, with the O’s 18 games out of first. The Rays won their game on Thursday night 6-3 over Boston, but lost the series 1-2 at Tropicana Field.

New approach for Tampa: The Rays are trying a new approach to managing their pitching staff as of late, and that approach is called “bullpenning.” Last weekend against the Los Angeles Angels, reliever Sergio Romo started the final two ballgames of a four game series, going 1.0 and 1.1 innings in his appearances. Ryan Yarbough (6.1 innings) took over in the third game, and the Rays used three different pitchers following Romo in the fourth game with none of them going more than 3.1 innings. This weekend, Rays relievers will start all three games versus the Orioles.

The “bullpenning” movement came to fruition due to more runs being scored in the first inning than any inning for American League teams. Another reason Tampa manager Kevin Cash is trying this with his squad is because a lot of starters, particularly veterans, struggle while pitching their third time through an order. If Cash uses a reliever to start the game, he pushes a “starter’s” third time through the order back at least an inning. Using relief pitchers to start the game for an inning or two does no harm, as they are already accustomed to pitching a few times a week for a handful of innings total.

Last meeting/season series: This marks the third series played between the AL foes this season, and the first one at Tropicana Field. The season series is tied 3-3. From May 11-13, the Orioles took three of four from the Rays at Camden Yards. The O’s outscored Tampa 35-18, including a 17-1 win on Sunday May 13’th. Kevin Gausman, David Hess, and Dylan Bundy each turned in a quality start, highlighted by Bundy’s seven-inning, two-hit performance with seven strikeouts. Manny Machado hit three home runs for seven total RBI over the first two games of the series, and then the shortstop brought in two runs on doubles during Sunday’s big win.

The Orioles went 3-6 at Tropicana Field in 2017.

Game times and pitching matchups:

Game 1Friday, May 25, 7:10 pm – David Hess (1-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Sergio Romo (1-0, 4.34 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 2Saturday, May 26, 4:10 pm – Andrew Cashner (2-5, 4.72 ERA) vs. Ryne Stanek (0-0, 5.40 ERA) – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Game 3Sunday, May 27, 1:10 pm – Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.48 ERA) vs. Sergio Romo – MASN, 105.7 The Fan

Notes on the Orioles:

  • At this time last week, the Orioles expected to activate Darren O’Day (hyperextended elbow) off the disabled list during the Boston series, but since then O’Day wasn’t feeling good enough to throw a scheduled Wednesday bullpen session. O’Day is reportedly waiting to see if the elbow feels any better by today (Friday), but he will likely receive cortisone shots.
  • In Thursday’s 9-3 win over the White Sox, the Orioles batted around in both the first and second innings. It marked the first time since Jun. 30, 2009 against Boston that the Orioles sent more than nine batters to the plate twice in the same game. The O’s won that game 11-10.
  • In 25.2 career innings against the Rays, Mychal Givens is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. He’s struck out six times as many hitters (30) than he’s allowed runs (5).

Notes on the Rays:

  • In 6.2 career innings against the Orioles, Romo has a 4.05 ERA with one save.
  • The Rays play in spurts; they’re a very streaky team. They’re the only team in the majors with multiple 5-game winning streaks and five-game losing streaks this season. Last night’s win over Boston snapped a three-game losing streak. The Rays had gone on a six-game winning streak before that losing streak began.
  • Tampa is 10-6 so far this season in series openers.

Image Credit: Birds Watcher