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When a team turns south the way the Orioles have over the first 11 days of the season, there's nothing left to do but rationalize to try to maintain your sanity, so here are the things to keep in mind while you're waiting to see if Brad Bergesen can turn the tide in today's afternoon series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays:

Rationalization #1: This is still about the closer situation. If Michael Gonzalez had saved those two games, the Orioles would be at least 3-5, which wouldn't really raise all that many eyebrows.

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Rationalization #2: The starting pitching has actually been quite good so far. Only Bergesen has turned in a sub-par outing during the first eight games.

Rationalization #3: The defense has been surprisingly good, particularly at third base. Who would have thunk that?

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Frankly, if I had told you two weeks ago that the Orioles would get seven decent starting performances in their first eight games and only make one error over that period (and even that ball took a bad hop), I think you would have figured the Orioles to be at least .500 at this point.

Does that make it any easier to stomach this 1-7 start. Just the opposite. After all that rationalization, I feel even worse.

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