Putting the "O" back in "Orioles"

If the Orioles give up two runs in a game, it feels almost certain that they're going to lose.

One run is dicey. Two runs are death.

It shouldn't be that way, of course, but they've scored 15 in their last eight games. The fear of being shut out has been replaced by the nightly realization that they could be no-hit.

Edwin Jackson retired the first 12 Orioles last night. Wei-Yin Chen gave up two earned runs and was toast.

Showalter Frustrated Dugout wide.jpgThe Orioles went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position last night and are 1-for-10 in their series against the Nationals, which concludes today. They're 1-for-27 since June 16 and are batting .163 in their last six games.

The club is looking to bolster its rotation, either through a trade or by plucking Chris Tillman or Zach Britton from Tripe-A Norfolk, but the offense must be addressed, as well, or the Orioles have no shot at staying in contention in the American League East.

Fans keep asking me about Tides outfielder Lew Ford, who's batting .369 with seven doubles, three triples, five homers, 23 RBIs and a 1.036 OPS in 32 games. The Orioles signed him out of the independent Atlantic League, where he was serving his third tour with the Long Island Ducks. It's an unusual place to find a savior, but he's being discussed at Camden Yards.

The first question from a season-ticket holder at yesterday's State of the Orioles address actually pertained to Ford, which on the surface is quite silly. Ford shouldn't be the hottest topic at a Q&A with executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter. However, Duquette offered an interesting response.

"You picked a good one because Buck and I were talking about Lew Ford yesterday," he said. "We actually drafted him in Boston and traded him to Minnesota. He can play all three outfield positions. He's a good on-base man and he's got some power. You may see him up here."

"May" being the operative word. Duquette isn't going to make any promises. But if you go to norfolktides.com, click on "stats" and check the batting averages, you won't find a long list of worthy candidates for promotion.

Ford also has played in Japan and Mexico since his last major league season in 2007. In his last two years with the Twins, he batted .226 and .233 in part-time duty. But the Orioles may not have much choice except to give him a look. He couldn't do much worse than some others in their lineup.

Duquette also brought up Alfonso Soriano's name at one point when the subject turned to trade rumors involving the Cubs, who have been trying to unload the veteran on anyone who will take their calls. That includes friends and relatives who are letting them go to voice mail.

"I'm sure the Cubs would like to move Soriano, right?" Duquette said. "They have a commitment to him and he hasn't really performed that well since he signed that contract."

Ladies and gentlemen, your understatement of the year.

Sort of like saying, "The Orioles' bats have cooled off a bit."

They need to heat up before the team's playoff aspirations go into a deep freeze.

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