O's are now four games out of the playoffs with teams behind them gaining ground (Walker update)

When the Orioles began the second half going 4-0 and scoring 23 runs, they looked like a team poised to go on a hot streak. But then they lost five of the next six.

When the Orioles started their last road trip going 4-1 they looked poised for a great trip. Then they lost three straight at Arizona, each in walkoff fashion.

When Nate McLouth hit a leadoff homer last night you had the feeling the O's may get it going against Colorado and start a nine-game homestand with a much-needed win. And then they lost.

Each time it looks like the Orioles are ready to make a run, they don't. I'm certainly not ready to say this season will not end up with a playoff berth as some of the readers here have already done but the O's look like a team that needs a spark right now.

They have solid character in the clubhouse, they have a great work ethic, they have a bunch of All-Stars and league leaders in the stats. They also have a good leader in the dugout, but right now something seems to be missing and I'm not sure what it is.

For now, the top two teams in the American League East are not running away from them. Would it surprise you to know that, over the last nine games, while the Orioles have gone 4-5 that Boston and Tampa are each 3-6? They've actually gained a little ground.

But the O's can't get on a roll right now and they are beginning to run out of time.

In the wild card standings the Orioles are now four games behind Oakland for the second wild card berth. But behind them Cleveland is 4 1/2 gmaes out, Kansas City is five back and New York is six games behind Oakland.

As the O's pursue the A's for a playoff spot the Indians, Royals and Yankees are bearing down on them from behind.

Captain Obvious would state that the Orioles need to start winning right away and then keep it going. No more stops and starts. It's go time for a team that right now looks like it needs a spark and that something is missing.

Update on Christian Walker: Double-A Bowie first baseman Christian Walker is very unlikely to return to play this season with so few games remaining. He has been out since Aug. 2 with lower back soreness. He has undergone some medical tests and has more to come before a final prognosis is made. The team obviously wants to get to the bottom of the issue since Walker's 2012 season also ended early due to a back issue then.

Walker, the club's fourth-round pick in 2012, has had a strong season, one that began at Single-A Delmarva, saw him move to Single-A Frederick and then Bowie, and also play in the All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field in New York.

Over 103 games, he is batting .300 with 27 doubles, 11 homers, 56 RBIs and a .815 OPS. He is batting .242 in 17 games with Bowie.

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