Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Jim Johnson throws during the ninth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the New York Mets, Saturday, March 30, 2013, in Sarasota, Fla. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Jim Johnson throws during the ninth inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the New York Mets, Saturday, March 30, 2013, in Sarasota, Fla. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (Carlos Osorio, Carroll County Times)

Orioles fans have the stat memorized.

When talking about last year's team and its surprising postseason run, people point to Baltimore's record in one-run games, 29-9, as the largest contributing factor.

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Sure, the club went 93-69, beat Texas in a wild-card game, and pushed the Yankees to five games in the AL Division Series. But that one-run record stands out.

A major contributor was the Orioles bullpen, a collection of arms that made things tough on the opposition all season long.

Quality relief pitching helped the Orioles to a staggering 16-2 regular-season record in extra-inning games. It helped them go 25-14 in two-run games. It helped them go 75-1 when leading after eight innings.

Now, can it help them match any of those stats this year?

Having last year's relief corps back for 2013 seems to be a start.

"I don't think we'll disappoint anyone," left-hander Troy Patton said at Orioles FanFest in late January. "Of course, people are going to give up runs, bad things are going to happen. But collectively if we use the same process and have the same mindset, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to."

Baltimore's relievers combined to post a 32-11 record and a 3.00 ERA last season. The ERA was third best in the American League. The wins were the most, the losses were the fewest.

The Orioles' 55 saves also led the league, as did all-star closer Jim Johnson with 51.

In late September, with the Orioles making their playoff push, the

Wall Street Journal

published an article praising the bullpen. The story used information taken from

http://www.fangraphs.com

that said the Orioles' bullpen was responsible for adding 12.1 wins to the club's total.

By season's end, according to the site, Baltimore's bullpen WPA (win probability added) was 13.86. The next best in the major leagues was Texas, at 8.0.

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Compare the Orioles' WPA to their run differential, plus-7, and it's evident the arms led Baltimore to its first postseason trip in 15 years.

And here's another factor - Jason Hammel had Baltimore's lone complete game in 2012, which meant more innings for Showalter's stable of arms.

Johnson was the lone all-star, but he was far from the only quality arm in the bullpen.

Patton's ERA was 2.43 while right-handers Luis Ayala (2.64), Darren O'Day (2.28), and Pedro Strop (2.44) created matchup problems up and down the lineup. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter moved starters Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter to the bullpen late in the year, and both pitchers flourished.

Things continued in the playoffs.

Orioles relievers tossed 3 1-3 scoreless innings in Baltimore's 5-1 win over Texas in the wild-card game. After a rare blow-up by Johnson in Game 1 of the ALDS, they came back with 2 2-3 scoreless frames in a 3-2 win over the Yankees.

The Yanks took Game 3 in extras, but in Game 4 the bullpen threw 7 1-3 scoreless innings and the Orioles won 2-1 in the 13th.

New York won the series the following day, with CC Sabathia throwing a complete-game victory.

Showalter finalized his 2013 bullpen Saturday and the Orioles are set to use an eight-man pen to start the season: right-handers Ayala, Hunter, Johnson, O'Day, and Strop; leftys Matusz, Patton, and T.J. McFarland, this year's Rule 5 pick.

Patton said it took some time to get over the series loss, but he and his fellow relievers are motivated to help the team to a second straight playoff berth.

The formula, he said, shouldn't vary.

"Let's just try to see what happens," Patton said. "And let's try to keep the same process that we did last time, that was successful."

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