The bullpen is pulling its weight

Maybe somewhat lost during the Orioles 7-4 start which has featured some longball bashing and solid starting pitching is that the Orioles' bullpen has been pretty solid this year as well.

Outside of that Kevin Gregg meltdown Sunday in Toronto the bullpen has been very good. The 'pen ERA on the year is 2.75 and if you take away Sunday's game that lowers to 1.82.

In last night's 3-2 win, four pitchers combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings. It was all needed as Darren O'Day, Troy Patton, Luis Ayala and Jim Johnson were protecting a one-run edge and had no margin for error.

Johnson got a shaky save, but a shaky save beats the alternative. He stranded the bases loaded in the ninth, getting Brent Morel to ground out to third for the game's final out in a spot where a hit might have made the Orioles a loser Tuesday night.

Johnson has now recorded 13 consecutive saves dating to last Aug. 14.

In the four wins on this road trip, the Orioles bullpen pitchers have combined to work 14 innings allowing just seven hits but no earned runs.

Several of the 'pen pitchers are off to good starts:
Ayala: 0 ER over 5 IP.
Johnson: 0 ER over 5 2/3 IP.
Matt Lindstrom: 0 ER over 4 2/3.
Pedro Strop: 1 ER over 7 IP.
O'Day: 1 ER over 5 IP.

While this 'pen doesn't currently have a set long man and is working with just the one lefty in Patton, it does feature a nice mix of some hard throwers, some young arms and some veteran experience.

If the Orioles are going to win the close games - and they are 5-2 so far in contests decided by two runs or less - the bullpen crew will be called on to get big outs in the late innings.

The 'pen pitchers came through big time last night in preserving a one-run win and they have played a key role in this team's 7-4 start to the season.

Meanwhile, Dylan Bundy finally allowed a baserunner last night, but still has not allowed a run or a hit over his first three outings for Single-A Delmarva.

Bundy retired the first eight batters last night against Hagerstown and, at that point, had retired the first 26 in his brief career, but he then issued a walk. So he has pitched nine hitless innings for the Shorebirds, retiring 27 of 28 batters with 15 strikeouts.

Orioles director of pitching development Rick Peterson was at last night's game and told me on my radio show last night that Bundy threw 42 pitches. After his outing he threw 18 more in the bullpen.

Peterson said a Bundy pitched was clocked at 102 mph on the Perdue Stadium radar gun but the Orioles gun had the pitch at 99. I guess it's something for the kid to shoot for next time.

Peterson said Bundy did not get his curveball over very much for strikes last night, but said he did throw five changeups, three for strikes. The Orioles are working hard with Bundy to improve his changeup to go with the mid- to high-90s fastball.

Bundy will now pitch four innings each over his next three outings.

Radio show plug: I hope many readers of this blog join me each weeknight for the radio show, "Baltimore Baseball Tonight" from 10 p.m. to midnight on 105.7 FM The Fan in Baltimore. I take calls and talk about the Orioles. I look forward to hearing from you when you have a chance to call in. You can listen live from anywhere by clicking here, then clicking on listen live and then on 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore.

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