The pitching takes a turn for the better

Maybe the Orioles' pitching is about to go on a real good run and maybe we are seeing the start of it in recent games.

Consider these stats:

* Over the last six games, the O's have recorded five quality starts and the starters' ERA is 3.43. If you could take away the game where Jason Hammel gave up six runs, the starters' ERA is 2.43 in the other five games and the Orioles have won all five.

* Over the last 20 games, O's pitching has allowed three runs or less 12 times.

* Over the last 18 games, the O's bullpen ERA is 1.92.

* Miguel Gonzalez takes the mound tonight and he has recorded an O's season-high seven consecutive quality starts with an ERA of 2.49 in that time.

* The O's have allowed three runs total in their last three games vs. Texas, winning by scores of 6-1, 3-1 and 3-1.

* Jim Johnson has recorded five straight saves and has 19 saves over his last 21 chances.

While Johnson had a shaky save last night, giving up a hit and a hit by pitch while needing 19 pitches to get the final three outs, I thought he showed some signs that looked to me like the 2012 version of himself.

He threw a few fastballs with very good sink in the 94-95 mph range. He also threw one or two very good curveballs, even though he hit a batter with one that didn't spin at all.

Could Johnson be poised for a big second half?

Last season, the Orioles had the majors' best record in August and September and their pitching led the way. If they get that this year, they'll make a real strong run at a second straight playoff berth.

The stat that appeared on MASN last night that showed the Orioles last in the AL East with just 15 seven-inning outings from their starters will have to change. Maybe this latest version of the rotation with Wei-Yin Chen back and Scott Feldman added can be good enough.

Are the O's showing signs of an improved pitching staff that will be badly needed for the stretch run?

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