Can O's remain contenders?

Can O's remain contenders?
August 31, 2013, 11:00 pm
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Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) in the dugout during the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Baltimore won 4-2.

(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

So this is the stark reality for the Orioles right now: After Saturday’s loss to the Yankees, they sit 4 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot. The Yankees are a half-game closer. The Orioles actually are nearer the Royals, just 2 1/2 games ahead of Kansas City in the wild-card standings, than they are to an American League postseason berth.

Welcome to September.

They are teetering on the edge of falling out of contention, their powerful bats inconsistent, too often failing to get the key hit with runners in scoring position. Their once extraordinarily reliable bullpen now makes fans nervous each time Buck Showalter comes to the mound. Their record in one-run games, so remarkable last season, is 15-24, worst in the AL East.

If the Orioles are to slog through the final month of the season, not really a contender, how disappointed will you be, Orioles fan?

Maybe you wanted more action from the front office, but this isn’t the afraid-to-pull-the-trigger management of old. Club vice president Dan Duquette beefed up the rotation with Bud Norris and Scott Feldman, even if he didn’t augment the offense until just adding Michael Morse.

In any case, the O’s acted like contenders and have been just that for most of the season. And if they have raised fans’ expectations, that’s a good thing.