Are the wheels starting to come off for the Orioles?

In a season filled with ups and downs, the Orioles have hit another bump in the road. This one looks like a crater.

In just the last three days both Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz have left starts with injuries. The club has been terrible with runners in scoring position the last week or so and every new game seems to bring another major blunder on the bases or in the field. And, then usually another injury.

It is looking like the wheels are beginning to come off the cart.

No one is saying the O's are just a few games out of first now because now they are 10 games out and quickly losing touch with the top of the division. Probably time to scrap any talk of 90 wins and contention.

The losing hurts and the Orioles have lost six of the last seven games since getting within one out of reaching .500 last Saturday against Tampa Bay. But each losing stretch this year has been followed by a winning one. When the Orioles lost eight straight in mid April, a 7-4 run followed.

When they lost four in a row in mid May, a five-game win streak followed, but right after that there was another losing streak, this time five games. But they followed that by going 6-2 which leads up to the recent losing stretch.

Injuries have hampered Derrek Lee, Brian Roberts, J.J Hardy, Luke Scott and Cesar Izturis. Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and Chris Tillman went back to the minors. Two have already returned, perhaps sooner than the club might have wanted.

There seems to be almost daily speculation about another roster move and the roster is constantly in flux.

Maybe all of this is finally taking a toll and the team did well for so long to keep a .500 record in reach. Maybe this just looks worse than it is and another run for .500 is coming.

The 2011 Orioles. They are not dull. But lately, they are also not good. When and how will it turn around this time? Will it turn around this time?

Meanwhile, in the minors last night, Troy Patton pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk. Patton's ERA on the year is down to 2.40 and, over his last six games, his ERA is 1.62. But he doesn't ever seem to get much of a chance with the Orioles.

After missing one game with flu symptoms, shortstop Manny Machado returned for Delmarva Saturday night and went 1-for-4 with a double and is batting .284.

As far as I know, no one in the O's organization has confirmed that Machado will move to Frederick after he plays in Tuesday's Sally League all-star game. But it's a poorly kept secret and Machado is expected to join the Keys in time for next Thursday's start of the second half.

Aberdeen is 1-1 after losing to Hudson Valley on Saturday. Mychal Givens is 1-for-6 with two runs scored and Conner Narron is 0-for-6 in their first two IronBirds games.

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