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Orioles Lose Opportunity to Gain Ground

Tampa Bay lost to Arizona, leaving a window of opportunity open for the Orioles to gain ground on the race for first in the AL East. With a win against the Astros, the Orioles would be closer to catching either Tampa Bay or Boston. But instead, the birds suffered one of their most lop sided defeat of the season in an 11-0 loss to the Houston Astros Wednesday night. Now Baltimore is 5 1/2 games behind the first place Boston Red Sox (who are just a half game ahead of Tampa Bay) and seem to be reeling.

Despite the win over the Astros on Tuesday night, the Orioles didn't look like themselves. Sure, Chris Davis got back on track by hitting his league leading 38th homer of the season, but where was the sure bat of Adam Jones? The definite double from Manny Machado? The rally started by Nate McClouth? No one really stepped up when it came time to bat. The defense was solid, besides the three runs allowed in the fourth, but the offense was almost non existent. But they still managed to produce four runs and take the win.

Wednesday night, however, was a different story. The Orioles got behind 4-0 in the 2nd inning and couldn't make up any ground from there. They produced just three hits against the Astro's rookie pitcher Brett Oberholtzer and gave him the first win of his career. Total for the game, the birds reached base just seven times. They weren't able to capitalize on anything and were shutout for the second time in three games.

Pitching was Baltimore's achilles heel, as it has usually been in losses this season. Miguel Gonzalez had one of the worst starts of his career, making it only to the fourth inning and giving up a career high nine runs. T.J. McFarland came in to close out the fourth inning. He allowed one run in the sixth and then gave way to Francisco Rodriguez who also allowed a run, this one in the seventh.

It's obvious that the Orioles need to step up their game if they want to play in October, a goal that general manager Buck Showalter has mentioned many times before. The question is, what's to blame for the team's struggles? The pitching or the morale of the players?

The Orioles need to get another win and they have an opportunity to do so tonight as they face the Astros once again at 7:05pm ET.