The offense slows to a crawl

If you go back over the Orioles' last five games, their offense has produced just 12 runs in that stretch. But is that because they are struggling at the plate now at such a critical time or just because they've faced some very good pitching?

In those five games - starting with the Tampa Bay series - the Orioles are batting just .170 as a team with four doubles and three homers.

In September, the Orioles hit .270 as a team with an OPS of .806. They averaged 5.46 runs per game and hit 47 homers in 28 games.

But now they have struggled for most of the last five games. But the starters they faced, in order, were Alex Cobb, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Yu Darvish and CC Sabathia. Those last four all ranked in the top 18 in the American League in ERA this year.

The five starters combined put up these statistics against the Orioles: 36 2/3 innings, 18 hits allowed with four walks and 42 strikeouts. That works out to an ERA of 1.47.

Last night there were times where it looked like the Orioles chased some pitches and/or rolled over on some to ground out when maybe they could have hit the ball the other way. Then again, Sabathia makes hitters do that just about every time he starts.

Now they try to turn that around and get the bats going tonight against Andy Pettitte, who is the all-time leader in career postseason wins with 19. He is 27-6 with an ERA of 3.52 in his career against the Orioles. In his last 10 starts vs. Baltimore, he is 7-0 with a 2.87 ERA.

As for Jim Johnson and his ninth inning last night, nothing for the O's to do tonight but give him the ball in the ninth if they have the lead. They've seen him do too much this year to do anything else.

He had a bad night and you just move on and bounce back. If the O's don't win tonight they will face the task of having to win three straight at Yankee Stadium starting Wednesday.

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