An important road trip arrives for the Orioles

This is not a make-or-break road trip for the Orioles, but with 50 games left and now being on the outside looking in for a playoff berth, it is pretty important.

The O's went backwards during a 4-5 homestand. They lost ground in the standings and days on the calender - not a good combination.

Right now, not only are the Orioles chasing two teams ahead of them in the AL East, but they are now chasing two ahead of them for the second wild card. Texas is leading that race, by a half-game over Cleveland and by 1 1/2 games over the Orioles.

As the Orioles get to San Diego, they meet a team that is playing well. The Padres are 52-60 overall, but they just took a series from the Yankees, have won six of their last eight and 10 of 15 games. San Diego is 10-6 since the All-Star break and 31-25 at home.

Back on May 14 and 15, the Padres beat the O's by 3-2 and 8-4 scores in Baltimore. In that series opener, they scored twice in the ninth off Jim Johnson to hand him his first blown save of 2013 after a 15-for-15 start. That snapped Johnson's streak of 35 straight saves, which had dated to last July 27.

The Orioles offense needs to pick up the pace. They have scored just 3.5 runs per game with a batting average of .231 in losing eight of the last 12 games.

Maybe we saw some good signs for the offense in recent games. Manny Machado went 6-for-16 over the last four games after slumping for a stretch and Chris Davis has homered three times in his last six games. Nate McLouth and Nick Markakis are swinging pretty well right now, but J.J. Hardy is 7-for-38, Brian Roberts is 1-for-13 and Matt Wieters is 2-for-28.

It's too soon for some of the doom and gloom we've heard lately and I'm not in that camp that says a playoff team doesn't lose to the Mariners. Houston blanked Boston just last night.

But the Orioles did not have the look of a playoff team on that last homestand. If that doesn't change by the end of this road trip, a 2013 playoff berth may be slipping away.

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