Current concerns about the Orioles

HOUSTON - With a loss tonight, the Orioles would fall below .500 for the first time since they were 9-10 on April 22.

They also would have their third four-game losing streak of the season.

The Orioles are 6-12 in their last 18 games, beginning with a loss to the Astros on May 11 at Camden Yards that denied them a sweep of the series. The offense bogs down or the starters can't get through the middle innings or the bullpen buckles under the weight of constant use.

"I think we've seen flashes of how good we can be at times," said first baseman Chris Davis, "but we've got to hit on all cylinders."

The Orioles need Davis to start hitting again. He's 0-for-12 with eight strikeouts since coming off paternity leave.

Going back further, Davis has two hits in his last 23 at-bats. He's 4-for-26 with one home run and 13 strikeouts since his three-homer game in Pittsburgh.

J.J. Hardy is batting .296 despite going 0-for-4 last night, but he's still homerless since Sept. 5. I understood the power outage while he dealt with lower back and hamstring injuries, but I'm not sure what's hindering him these days.

Manny Machado was 0-for-4 last night to lower his average to .216 with a .270 on-base percentage and .284 slugging percentage. He also committed his sixth error in 25 games.

Three Houston pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts last night. The Orioles offense began the night ranked 22nd in the majors with 388 strikeouts.

I won't lie, I assumed they were higher up the list.

Bud Norris has the lowest ERA among the starters at 4.04. Before last night, the rotation ranked 26th with a 4.60 ERA.

Chris Tillman, the ace of the staff, is carrying a 4.97 ERA and has allowed 14 runs and 14 hits in his last two starts over 6 2/3 innings. He's also walked seven batters.

Matt Wieters will do some light throwing today. He hasn't played since May 10, which kicked off the current 6-12 run.

The two catchers on the 25-man roster, Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph, are a combined 4-for-37 with two RBIs. Joseph's RBI came on a bases-loaded walk.

The Orioles still have a winning record on the road at 15-14, but they're 11-12 at home. They're now 8-18 when scoring fewer than four runs.

They've been held to one run or fewer in eight games, and two runs or fewer in 16 games.

So how's your morning?

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