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The Orioles dropped nine games under .500 last night and 13 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East. Does that mean they are "hopelessly" out of contention?

Not in the wild card era, because it's early July and a run like they had in August and September last year (with a lesser team) would put them in range of the extra playoff berth. But don't construe that little bit of mathematical logic as an argument that they are going to pick themselves up off the mat again this year and make a run at respectability.

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It looks to me like they are falling off the competitive cliff as we speak. I realize that they faced the best pitcher in the National League last night, but Jair Jurrjens isn't the only guy who has overmatched them lately. The offense just refuses to click on the most basic level and the pitching is deteriorating rapidly. This is where organizational depth comes into play...if you have any.

This is an ugly picture that is about to get uglier. I'm usually the most positive guy in the room, but the Rangers and Red Sox are waiting in the wings and the Orioles -- barring some unforseen change in aptitude and attitude -- will not have an answer for them.

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