Poor starting pitching wearing down O's 'pen

Monday's 13-4 loss to the Rangers was so lopsided so early in the game there was a point in the third inning that the Orioles didn't even look like they belonged on the same field as the Rangers. There haven't been many times I've felt that way in my career covering the Birds, despite witnessing some of the worst seasons in franchise history.

That's opinion, but here are some facts. Some scary facts that could make for a long second half.

The O's starters have been horrendous at going deep into the games (Captain Obvious here). In the last 20 games, the Birds' starters have only gone at least seven innings once. Jeremy Guthrie did on July 1. In the last 10 games, Guthrie was the only O's starter to even get through six innings. Over that span, O's starters are 3-6 with an ERA over 8.00.

The saving grace has been the bullpen. Before Monday's debacle, O's relievers had pitched to a 2.52 ERA in their previous 13 games.

The problem is, the bullpen can't keep covering three, four, five or even six innings a game. Sooner or later, that dam will burst. It did Monday night in Texas as Alfredo Simon and Pedro Viola gave up 11 hits and six earned runs in six innings pitched. The O's bullpen now leads all of baseball in innings pitched with 287 1/3.

Injuries and ineffectiveness have left Buck Showalter piecing a rotation together with long relievers and Triple-A pitchers who otherwise haven't earned their way to the big leagues. Something has got to give.

Some fans are calling for the trade of Guthrie. Under other circumstances, I'd agree, get what you can for him. Right now, though, if the rotation would lose Guthrie, it would look like one of Sylvester the Cat's fish bones in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

Mark Reynolds committed his 20th error of the season Monday in Arlington. Not only does that lead the major leagues, Reynolds is now just two errors away from breaking the Orioles franchise record for most errors committed by a third baseman in a season. Cal Ripken set that record the year he switched to third base with 22 errors.

Endy Chavez, the Rangers' No. 9 hitter, was in the midst of a slump. The Orioles busted him right out of that. He only had eight RBIs all season coming into this week's series with the O's. Chavez had a homer, double and four RBIs in Monday's series opener.

Tuesday, the Birds will likely send Mitch Atkins to the mound for his eighth major league appearance. Not the best timing. In a perfect world, the O's would prefer to not lean on a rookie to help them bounce back after an embarrassing game, but, as is the theme this year, Showalter is running out of options.

Last time I checked, the rule book says somebody has to start the game.