Keeping up with a theme that has been consistent all year for the
"Those guys have been doing it all year," Hunter said. "It's pretty fun to give them the ball and say, 'Here's the game, you guys go win it.' They've been doing it all year and they're going to continue to do it. They're pretty good back there."
Statistically speaking, Baltimore has the fourth-best bullpen in the majors by ERA, but the advantage of having reliable late-inning relievers has had a greater impact than ERA can explain.
The Orioles are 39-17 on the year in games decided by two runs or less, and are one game shy of the franchise record for consecutive wins in one-run games set in 1979 with 11.
"That's easy," Markakis said. "The bullpen. The bullpen's been unbelievable all year. I don't think you could say we'd be in the position we are without them. They just keep going out and putting zeros for us and allowing us to score some runs late in the game. I think that's the big difference."
It's hard to gauge the confidence that having a standout bullpen brings to an offense, but individually, the stats stuck out Sunday.
And the closer, Jim Jonson, pitched a perfect ninth for his 34th save of the season, putting him at second in the
So yes, it's hard to quantify something like confidence, but the stats speak for themselves. Even when the starting pitching isn't spectacular and only lasts five innings, the Orioles continue to have as good a chance as anyone in the late innings.