(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Even though Baltimore’s final game against the Oakland A’s didn’t go their way, the Orioles still took three out of four from the defending American League West champs.

Yes, losing that Sunday finale in Oakland was probably the most frustrating loss of the season–as the Birds blew a couple of leads–but that didn’t seem to faze manager Buck Showalter.

After the defeat, Showalter talked about how proud he was of his ball club. Buck certainly understands the fact that the Orioles are playing good baseball.

Heading into their three-game set with the Mariners in Seattle, Baltimore has won four-straight series.

These things should be appreciated.

However, there are still some concerns with the team as April comes to a close.

Wei-Yin Chen is the only Baltimore starter to go at least seven innings in a game. That is not good enough. The bullpen is getting overworked and it’s beginning to show. It’s time for Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman to get deeper into their outings.

Reliever Pedro Strop has become a disaster. Remember how dominant he was for most of 2012? Well, that guy is nowhere to be found. Since he is out of options, he can’t be sent to the minors and the Orioles aren’t going to give him away. They won’t bury him in the bullpen because that is already being done with T.J. McFarland. Strop will have to pitch himself out of this funk.

J.J. Hardy is struggling at the plate. After hitting .238 with a .282 OBP in ’12, Hardy’s numbers are even worse this season. Prior to Monday night’s opener against Seattle, Hardy is batting .198 with a feeble .243 OBP. He needs to start approaching his career stats of a .257 BA and a .312 OBP.

Despite these issues, the Orioles are hanging tough in the AL East. I would expect that to be the case all summer long.


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