Originally posted on The Baseball Page  |  Last updated 6/29/12

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Every Major League Baseball team will struggle mightily at one point or another throughout the course of a 162 game season. Rarely is a team hot or dominant all season. The issue with this Orioles team is that it is easier for the long suffering fan base to believe that these are the real Baltimore Orioles than it is to believe that the team is destined to be a playoff squad. The doubts are swirling above this team and rightfully so. 

With all of that being said, there are definitely some major concerns with this team at this point in the season. If you would have told Orioles supporters their Birds would be 41-33 just weeks before the All-Star break, they would have signed on the dotted line. But after a hot start that found the Orioles playing like a team that had some staying power, the recent struggles are and should be alarming to those hoping the Orioles will end their playoff drought this season. 

The pitching staff, which miraculously has been performing very well all season, has experienced many difficulties as of late. Even the O's best pitcher this season, Jason Hammel, got knocked  around pretty handily for the first time all season. Hammel deserves a pass for his first truly awful start of the season and his return to earth was bound to happen eventually. Hammel and the rest of the Orioles staff experienced first hand just how well the Los Angeles Angels can hit when firing on all cylinders. 33 hits in two games for the Angels to go along with 20 runs and five home runs. Aside from Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen, the remaining members of the starting rotation have been up and down all season. Normally when a pitcher struggles the way Brian Matusz currently is or Jake Arrieta was earlier in the season, they get sent to the minors. The issue with the Birds is that they don't have Major League ready pitcher to move up to the big league club. 

The offensive futility has been well documented by myself and many others in recent weeks and the Angels series was no different. While the Birds managed to pile up more hits the past two evenings, they were unable to pick up key hits in key situations with runners in scoring position. This team has no one hitting over .300 for the season, a truly alarming stat for a team that is still eight games over .500. 

All this two game sweep at the hands of the Angles proved is that at this point in time, the Los Angeles Angels are a better baseball team than the Baltimore Orioles. I can assure you that two weeks before the season this would have been the most obvious claim in  the world to make. But after tonight's victory over the O's, the Angels are only 1/2 game better than Baltimore.

With 11 games remaining before the All-Star break, this is the point in the season where we will learn what type of ball club the Birds truly have. It's discovery time for the players, fans, coaches, and management. Hopefully after all the dust settles two weeks from now, everyone associated with Orioles will know what they have and what they need to acquire to make a run to the playoffs.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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