Reviewing the first half

If you weren't invited to the All-Star Game as a late replacement, you might want to check your voicemail or text messages.

My interest in the "mid-summer classic" has waned over the years. Considering that three-fourths of the players chosen this year withdrew for various reasons - they're injured, they pitched on Sunday, they don't like a dry heat - I'd prefer to watch any program with a Kardashian sister.

(Scott Rolen is the starting third baseman for the National League. He's batting .241 with five homers and 36 RBIs. I'd only find him interesting if he married Lamar Odom.)

OK, I'll make sure to watch Matt Wieters' one at-bat. And I'll predict that Adrian Gonzalez is named Most Valuable Player.

The rest of the Orioles can get away from baseball for a few days, which seems like a pretty good idea. The game hasn't been treating them well. Or they haven't been treating the game well. Depends how you approach it.

It's easy to forget that the Orioles were 4-0 and 6-1. They've won six games since being 30-31. They've lost seven in a row and are 18 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox.

Maybe it will help that the Orioles return to Camden Yards on Thursday. They've gone 5-21 in their last 26 road games after starting the year 9-9 away from home. Overall, they're 22-22 at home, 14-30 on the road.

Since being 30-31, the Orioles are 6-21, have posted a 6.14 ERA and are batting .195 (43-for-221) with runners in scoring position.

Orioles starters have completed seven innings only once in the last 26 games since June 12 and have posted a 7.76 ERA. In the last 16 games, the rotation is 2-11 with a 9.56 ERA in 69 2/3 innings. Only two starters, Jeremy Guthrie and Mitch Atkins, have completed as many as six innings.

The Orioles have a multitude of on-field issues, but starting pitching is No. 1. They can't win if the rotation doesn't give them a chance and the bullpen is overused as a result.

The Orioles are 28-3 when leading after seven innings and 31-3 when leading after the eighth. But they can't get to that point anymore.

They're 2-47 when trailing after the seventh and 1-47 when behind after the eighth.

The Orioles have been outscored, 54-27, in the first inning, 59-43 in the second, 49-40 in the third, 51-45 in the fourth, 54-52 in the fifth, 57-37 in the sixth, 47-35 in the eighth, 25-19 in the ninth and 13-6 in extra innings. They've outscored opponents, 51-45, in the seventh.

More stuff: The Orioles are 9-19 against left-handers and 27-33 against right-handers. They're 10-22 against the AL East, 11-9 against the Central, 8-10 against the West and 7-11 in interleague play.

"I think our offense is a lot better. Where we were thin going in, our starting pitching has been an issue," said president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

"The difference in our club last season, other than Buck (Showalter) coming here in August, was the starting pitching ERA went from 5-something to 3.10. And that's what does it. Had they been able to sustain that or something like that, I think we'd be even better now.

"Last year, we had (Josh) Bell or Miggy (Miguel Tejada) at third and Izzy (Cesar Izturis) at short. Now we're much better on the left side of the infield. We're better defensively with Derrek (Lee) over at first. The bullpen's been healthier than it was a year ago with (Koji) Uehara and (Jim) Johnson and (Kevin) Gregg. But the starting pitching, that's been the big difference.

"(Brian) Matusz and Bergy (Brad Bergesen) pitched good last year. Matusz and Bergy aren't pitching good as starters this year, and that's how razor-thin we are."

Same as my patience after the last road trip.

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