Orioles remain an enigma wrapped in a riddle

The Orioles have six games remaining in the regular season, and I still haven't figured them out.

They had lost three of their last four games before destroying the Blue Jays last night. The offense was sluggish before they erupted for seven home runs in a 12-2 victory. The rotation had become a major concern before Miguel Gonzalez turned in his third consecutive quality start.

Manager Buck Showalter has provided extra rest for Gonzalez, going to great extremes, but the right-hander was working on normal rest last night. Also defies logic.

The Orioles are off today, and Showalter is toying with the idea of attending the Browns-Ravens game tonight at M&T Bank Stadium. He mentioned that it depended on how "the MRIs" turned out, which would dictate his mood. Showalter didn't elaborate - and the way he's limping these days, he could be headed to the disabled list - but we're not always made aware of the injuries that he'd prefer to keep private from the opposition.

We didn't know that Randy Wolf felt pain in his left elbow on Saturday until the Orioles got back to Baltimore. We had no idea that Lew Ford sustained a groin injury until Tuesday, but it cropped up Sunday in Boston. We were unaware of J.J. Hardy's injured finger and how he couldn't throw the ball in the usual manner until after last night's game.

Showalter wrote out two lineups, one without Hardy.

Should we be concerned?

Hardy had a sore shoulder in spring training that still requires the occasional treatments. Now a swollen finger. His defense alone makes him invaluable, and you can factor in the 21 home runs.

The Orioles aren't exactly the team picture of health as the playoffs approach.

Bill Hall is here because of Ford's injury, and did anyone expect to find him in the clubhouse after the last time he was designated him for assignment? Hall also is insurance in case Mark Reynolds' sore left biceps worsens.

Jason Hammel soon could be ready to pitch in a simulated game, which still isn't the same as facing the Red Sox or Rays with the division title or wild card berth on the line.

chen pitching white tough sidebar.jpgIs Wei-Yin Chen running out of gas? The Orioles and Chen say "no." His performance could be viewed as a contradiction.

Nick Markakis is wearing a different cast on his left hand and could have the pins removed from his thumb next week while the Orioles are in Tampa. He's not going to play again unless the Orioles get to the second round of the playoffs, or deeper.

Robert Andino is less than a week removed from being nailed in the ear flap by a 94 mph fastball. Ryan Flaherty started in his place last night.

The orange and black comes with red flags, but the Orioles keep defying logic.

"I think if you'd have told us a few months ago that we'd be a game and a half out with six games left, I think you'd be pretty happy with that," said Chris Davis. "We just got through playing Boston and we played them well. Obviously, the three in Tampa are going to be tough, but we're at a point where we still have a chance, so that's all you can ask for."

Davis and Manny Machado each homered twice last night, the first time Orioles teammates hit multiple homers in the same game since Markakis and Oscar Salazar on Sept. 14, 2008 against the Twins. And shame on you if you forgot about Salazar.

Jim Thome's 612 home runs put him 18 behind Ken Griffey Jr. for sixth place on the all-time list.

Thome is playing despite being 42 years old and diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck.

Defies logic, which makes him blend nicely on this club.

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