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 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.

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Orioles extend losing streak to nine before salvaging a win over Marlins in series finale

Game 1 (2-0 MIA): The Orioles came into this weekend’s series with an eight game losing streak, their longest of the season. They were, and still are, extremely down on their luck, but with the struggling Marlins in town there might have been some room cautious optimism.

I know that sounds crazy but consider the fact that just last week the Orioles rallied for a pair of interleague wins over the Mets. Miami isn’t too far off from the Mets in terms of competition. In addition to that, the Orioles would be playing in their home stadium this time, meaning the much needed DH position could be used.

However, this brief moment of optimism was erased pretty quickly in Friday’s series opener. Kevin Gausman was decent enough in his 5.2 innings of work. The O’s starter gave up just two runs on five hits and struck out seven. Completing the sixth inning would have been nice but you can’t complain about that kind of start.

As you should expect at this point, that quality start was completely wasted as the Orioles offense mustered just three hits and never crossed home plate. Jose Urena got the start for the Marlins and ended up turning in his best performance of the season. The 26-year-old starter shut down the O’s with eight strong innings to earn just his second win of the season. The great start not only marks Urena’s deepest of the year, but also the first start this season where he kept the opposing lineup scoreless.

If there was a bright spot for the O’s, it was the bullpen. Four relievers entered the game after Gausman and they combined to give up just two hits in a little over three innings of work. Zach Britton made his second appearance of the season and looked much better than he did earlier this week. While Britton escaped that inning of relief on Tuesday without giving up any runs, he did allow three walks to put himself in a jam. On Friday Britton made quick work of the Marlins to retire the side in order with a pair of strikeouts.

Game 2 (5-4 MIA): The Orioles played another close game on Saturday but came up short once again. The Marlins looked like they might run away with it early after scoring four runs in the first three innings, but the Orioles would eventually make it a close contest. J.T. Realmuto led the scoring effort for Miami with an RBI single in the first and then a two run homer in the third.

In the bottom of the third, Manny Machado cut the Marlins lead in half with a two RBI single. The score remained 4-2 through the fifth but then Realmuto came around and got the best of Alex Cobb once again by launching a solo homer to make it three run game.

The Orioles offense was able to respond once again with a Jonathan Schoop solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. Danny Valencia followed that up with an RBI single in the seventh to cut the Marlins lead to one run, but the comeback would end there for the Orioles.

Brad Ziegler and Drew Steckenrider provided some much needed composure for the Marlins out of the pen. The duo combined to shut down the eighth and ninth innings while securing a win for Miami.

Game 3 (10-4 BAL): After playing from behind in the first two games, the Orioles didn’t waste any time taking the upper hand in Sunday’s series finale. Just like the Marlins did the day before, the O’s lineup was able to take an early 4-0 lead by the end of the third inning.

Jace Peterson got it started in the second inning by sending a ball deep to center field. It sailed over the outfielders heads and landed on the warning track before bouncing over the wall. Luckily for the O’s, this ground rule double didn’t have a negative impact since Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop were both in scoring position to start the at bat.

In the third inning the Orioles added two more runs thanks to an RBI double by Trumbo and an RBI single by Trey Mancini. The two runs would end up being huge considering the O’s started the third with two quick outs. Despite this, the heart of the order managed to pick up three hits, including the two RBI’s, and a walk before ending the inning.

By the end of the fifth the Orioles had captured an impressive 8-1 lead. Adam Jones knocked in two with a double in the fourth and Peterson added another two with a home run in the fifth.

Dylan Bundy was on the mound for the Orioles and looked like he was on pace for a great afternoon. Through five innings Bundy had already received more than enough run support, but also held the Marlins lineup to just one run, which came via a home run by Justin Bour.

Bundy was working at an impressive pace and had kept his pitch count down early on. The sixth inning would stop him in his tracks though. After putting two runners on base to start the inning, Bundy had to face Bour for a third time. Once again the Marlins designated hitter got the best of Bundy and sent a three run homer over the right field wall to make it a 8-4 game.

Bundy’s afternoon came to an end after it took him just shy of 30 pitches to finish off the sixth. With the Marlins threatening again in the seventh, Buck Showalter opted to use three different relievers to get through the inning. Miguel Castro got the inning started but quickly loaded the bases without recording an out. Mychal Givens came in and picked up two outs but was replaced by Tanner Scott with Bour coming up to the plate. The 23-year-old lefty handled the pressure very well and got Bour to strikeout looking.

The O’s offense had already done enough but they still managed to push two more runs across in the late innings. A Mark Trumbo solo homer and RBI single by Manny Machado helped cap off the ten run afternoon for the O’s. Brad Brach and Zach Britton closed out the last two innings with ease to break the Orioles nine game losing streak.

Up Next: The Orioles will take Monday off before making a short trip down the beltway to face the Nationals. When these two teams met at Camden Yards back in late May, Washington walked away with a sweep. These next three games will wrap up the season series between the Nationals and Orioles for 2018. The Nationals only need to win one game for their first season series win over the Orioles since 2007.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

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!

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Podcast: Nolan and Jake break down the Ravens’ sloppy win over Indy, and talk Britton & Machado

Welcome to the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast! On this episode, staff writer Nolan McGraw joins Jake McDonnell for a half-hour of Baltimore Sports talk.

Topics covered:

  1. The Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Colts: How full was M&T Bank Stadium? Did the rain impact player performance? Did the guys have any issues with coaching?
  2. Analyzing the Dick Cass letter sent to Ravens season ticket & PSL holders on Friday: Is the week 3 protest in London the biggest reason for the increased amount of empty seats at Ravens games?
  3. Looking ahead to the week 17 “win and in” game against the Bengals: How confident are we feeling eight days away from this big matchup?
  4. How the Zach Britton injury impacts the 2018 Baltimore Orioles, and more analysis of the Manny Machado trade talks.

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From all of us at Charm City Bird Watch, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Orioles closer Zach Britton ruptures Achilles, projected to be out six months

BALTIMORE, MD — According to Ken Rosenthal, Zach Britton ruptured his Achilles while working out in California on Tuesday. The exact timetable for the injury will not be known until Britton undergoes surgery.

This is devastating news for the Orioles, who have recently shown serious interest in trading players for a big prospect return. Along with Manny Machado, Britton has garnered a lot of trade attention. This stems back to last year when the Orioles had come close to an agreement with the Houston Astros at the trade deadline but the deal was shot down at the last minute.

Everyone remembers Britton’s exceptional 2016 season where he completed 47 saves with an ERA of 0.54. His performance even earned him some Cy Young and MVP award votes at the end of the year. This made him a one of the most sought-after relievers in the league.

Trade deadlines in recent years have seen big name relievers, like Britton, get traded to playoff contenders for huge returns. That was almost the case for the O’s last year but Britton remained on the team as the deadline passed because the deal wasn’t up to the team’s standards.

In wake of this recent news, it’s easy to say that they should have pulled the trigger on that deal when they had the chance. However, we now know that what the Astros offered was not as good as the other blockbuster deals in recent years. In addition, no one should fault the team for wanting to try for a better return in 2018. We obviously cannot predict serious injuries, which makes this entire situation so unfortunate.

With Britton entering the last year of his contract, the O’s are now faced with a big problem. Even if a Machado deal is executed, the Orioles can’t afford to lose Britton for no return.

Image Credit: The Boston Globe