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It would be hard to fault the Orioles lineup for succumbing so easily to Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields if Friday night's offensive shutdown was some kind of isolated incident, but it was another in a string of weak performances that have pushed the club three games under .500.

Shields came into the game with a 2.14 ERA and he's a quality starter, but this is the same lineup that let struggling Kyle Davies off the hook over and over again and looked bewitched by former O's (or name just about any other team) journeyman Bruce Chen.

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Something appears to be systemically wrong with this offense. Not only do the Orioles struggle to score runs, they seem to make it amazingly easy for the opposing pitcher to prevent them from doing so. Maybe they'll break out on Saturday afternoon against Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 4.31), but I'm not holding my breath.

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