Plenty of issues, plenty of wins

I love how Orioles fans have raised the bar.

There's utter panic in the streets because the Orioles' 63 errors are the most in the majors and their bats come with a frost warning. But I just checked the standings this morning and they're still in second place in the American League East. They trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games. They're 10 games above .500. They're talking about being buyers at the non-waiver trade deadline.

If you had told me back in March that I'd be typing the above paragraph, I would have insisted that you blow into a hose before starting your car.

The rotation brings some anxiety beyond Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen, who weren't exactly viewed as sure things as opening day approached. Injuries have robbed the Orioles of their corner outfielders, their fourth outfielder and their projected set-up man in the bullpen.

Wasn't Taylor Teagarden supposed to be their backup catcher. Wasn't Tsuyoshi Wada supposed to keep the ligament in his left elbow?

What I'm saying is it could be a whole lot worse. They could be scraping bottom again in the division.

I'm actually starting to feel better about the starters.

Jake Arrieta has allowed one run in two of his last three starts, and he shut out the Mets for five innings exactly a week ago before it all went horribly wrong in the sixth. Brian Matusz has allowed three earned runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts, though he hasn't gone more than 5 2/3 innings in his last three outings. Chris Tillman and Zach Britton are knocking on the door. The Orioles decided that they didn't need a 49-year-old soft-tossing lefty, which should be viewed as a good sign.

If only I could ignore the offense.

The Orioles won a thriller yesterday, thanks to Matt Wieters' two-run homer, but those were the only runs they scored. They've totaled 17 runs in their last nine games. They're 1-for-33 with runners in scoring position in their last seven.

They took two of three games from the Nationals despite scoring five runs. They've scored three runs or fewer in eight of their last nine games. They have 12 extra-base hits and are batting .091 with RISP in those nine games.

They're not active on the basepaths when they actually get a runner to first base. They haven't stolen a base since June 5, a span of 17 games, which is their longest streak since they went 20 games without one in 1962. The franchise record is 29 straight games in 1955.

But they're still in second place. Still 10 games above .500. Still prepared to go for it, with the division sitting there for the taking.

You can largely thank the bullpen, which has posted a 2.30 ERA and is on the verge of getting back Matt Lindstrom.

You can worry about the rest of the operation. I can't blame you. But second place still brings a level of satisfaction on June 25.

Belly up to the raised bar.

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