Can offense perk up in time to avoid sweep?

If the Orioles are going to avoid being swept in Houston, they must do some damage today against Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who has been named the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for April and May.

What could go wrong?

The Orioles are six games below .500 for the first time since September 2011. They’ve lost five in a row to tie their longest streak of the season. They couldn’t do much last night with right-hander Lance McCullers, making only his fourth major league start after being promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi.

McCullers allowed four hits and struck out 11 batters while going the distance. He didn’t issue a walk. He didn’t surrender an 800-foot home run, which gave him an edge over Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez.

With three runs allowed in 6 2/3 innings, Gonzalez turned in his fifth quality start of the season. But he was doomed by three solo home runs, including two shots by Chris Carter that figure to land around noon today, and an Orioles offense that is making two-run leads seem insurmountable.

The Orioles have scored two runs or fewer in eight of their last 13 games. They’re 1-19 when unable to tally more than two runs.

What can be done? Bring up a few hitters from Triple-A Norfolk and cut ties to players who are out of options? Don’t wait until the non-waiver deadline and make a bold trade, as the Mariners did yesterday for Arizona’s Mark Trumbo?

This team needs at least one bat while waiting for its own to heat up. How long can the Orioles remain patient?

They did make it through the night without putting shortstop J.J. Hardy on the disabled list. One thing went right for them.

jones-confused-orange-alcs-sidebar.jpgHardy will remain out of the lineup today, but he might return this weekend in Cleveland. Or the Orioles will decide that they can’t keep playing a man down and put him on the shelf. And Hardy will try to snip the string of injuries this season at three - left shoulder, lower back, left oblique.

Delmon Young’s single last night in the fourth inning scored Adam Jones and improved his average with runners in scoring position to .400 (12-for-30) with 12 RBIs. That’s good, right?

Jones tripled before Young delivered. He was 0-for-12 in his last four games, including his initial at-bat last night, 1-for-16 in his last five and 4-for-30 in his last nine.

Jones still hasn’t homered since May 11, a span of 20 games.

Steve Pearce went 0-for-3 last night to lower his average to .183 in 39 games. He’s 5-for-36 with 13 strikeouts in his last 13 games.

Jimmy Paredes was 0-for-3 with a strikeout last night. He’s 2-for-28 with 16 strikeouts in his last seven games, and 2-for-30 including his final two at-bats on May 27.

Online gambling site Bovada (www.Bovada.lv) has adjusted the odds on the Orioles winning the World Series, changing from 28/1 on May 6 to 40/1.

The Orioles are 4/1 to win the American League East, 20/1 to win the AL pennant. Jones is 25/1 to win AL Most Valuable Player.

Curious how Suk-min Yoon is pitching for the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization? Yoon, allowed by the Orioles to return to Korea this spring after failing to live up to his three-year, $5.575 million contract, is 1-3 with a 4.56 ERA in 18 relief appearances. He’s allowed 12 runs and 20 hits in 23 2/3 innings, with 12 walks and 24 strikeouts.

Yoon has surrendered only one home run, so he’s got that going for him.

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