Bumbling Birds

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Starting Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis in the same lineup may have been the idea the Baltimore Orioles landed on as a way of keeping ballpark patrons cool during the long, hot summer in the Inner Harbor.

It's clearly working.

Together, the two swing and miss enough to generate more breezes than anything the Patapsco River can whip up, and it has caused Baltimore's lineup to go into a dramatic tailspin recently. The whiff kings have been joined in futility by shortstop J.J. Hardy, and even superstar Adam Jones has been in on the act.

Davis is the worst offender, as he's currently mired in a massive 0-for-27 slump that has dropped his average from .308 to .272 in eight games.

Reynolds' slump extends back longer, really to the beginning of the season, but especially to June 6. Since that date, Reynolds is 11-for-54 (.204), but eight of the hits came in a three-game stretch from June 12-14 -- removing that brief period would give Reynolds a batting average of .073 since June 6, as he's put together a hitless streak of 12 at-bats and his current 3-for-29 stretch this month.

Hardy, meanwhile, went 0-for-5 Tuesday, dropping his season average to .239 and his OPS to .682. The shortstop is 4-for-41 (.098) in his last 10 games, and he has just one home run since he blasted his 10th on May 26.

The carousel of swings-and-misses and poor at-bats has infected superstar outfielder Adam Jones, who is 5-for-28 (.179) with one home run since his last multi-hit game on June 17.

Even the return of second baseman Brian Roberts hasn't done much to help, as he is hitting .182 (8-for-44) in 11 games since he went 3-for-4 in his first game back.

An offense can usually handle one or two players going into a funk at the plate because the other guys can pick up the slack. But when five hitters become this futile, it's amazing if a team can scratch any runs across at all.

Baltimore has, but not many -- in their last 10 games, the Orioles have scored 20 runs, a mere two per game. As a result, opposing starters have held Baltimore to nine earned runs in 64 2/3 innings in that span, a 1.25 ERA.

The Orioles will face Los Angeles Angels right-hander Jered Weaver Wednesday night, so things won't get much easier for them. After that, these are the starters that will get a crack at shutting down Baltimore in the next five games.

Zach McAllister, Cleveland Indians (1-1. 3.96 ERA)

Derek Lowe, Cleveland Indians (7-6, 4.28)

Josh Tomlin, Cleveland Indians (3-5, 5.70)

Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians (4-7, 4.09)

Kevin Millwood, Seattle Mariners (3-6, 4.02)

Of those five starters, only Masterson has an ownership rate above 50 percent in Yahoo! leagues (56 percent). Lowe is owned in 19 percent of leagues and the other three are owned in less than 10 percent. I would consider streaming all of these pitchers, including Tomlin, otherwise an abomination but a decent option in this case.

The Orioles simply aren't offering much competition to opposing starters when they step in the batter's box, so take advantage of what will likely be the tail end of several massive slumps.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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