Pitching coach Rick Adair walking along side catcher Matt Wieters

Yes, THE Baltimore Orioles.  The same Orioles who couldn’t string together much of any pitching last season are currently atop the American League in Team ERA with a 2.83 mark.  Before last night, the Texas Rangers held the lead in this category in the AL, but after Toronto scored a whopping 11 runs off of them at the Rogers Centre, the Orioles have taken over.

The only two teams in all of baseball pitching better than the Orioles (in terms of ERA) are the Cardinals and the Nationals, both of which have stacked rotations full of star quality names like Stephen Strasburg, Edwin Jackson, Adam Wainwright, and Chris Carpenter.

The Orioles rotation made it through the month of April without any changes, and includes Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, and Brian Matusz.  The worst of those guys in the ERA category is Matusz at 4.67, which isn’t terrible right now considering the 10.69 he posted in 2011 along with the fact that he has shown major progress in each start over the last month.  Hammel leads the group with a 1.97 ERA.

Starters are giving the Orioles 6-8 inning outings, which is leading to the Orioles lights out bullpen.  Matt Lindstrom, Luis Ayala, and closer Jim Johnson have combined to pitch 31.1 scoreless innings in relief.  Combine that with Darren O’Day and his single earned run over 12.2 innings, and throw in Pedro Strop who has allowed just three runs over 13 IP, and you have 5 of the 7 Orioles relievers stacking up for an ERA of 0.63. 0.63!!!

Yes, the bullpen also includes lefty Troy Patton who has a 4.50 ERA, but after a rough first two outings, has only given up two runs in 8.1 innings in a lefty long relief/specialist role.  The weight dragging the ‘pen down is Kevin Gregg, who has allowed a wonderful 5 runs over 5.2 innings.

Pitching is the key to winning.  We all know that.  It was what the Orioles said going into last season with high hopes of their young cavalry.  So what if Arrieta and Matusz are the only two from that group that are still up in the big leagues?  The O’s are getting it done with pitching, and in turn, are battling for first place in the AL East.

Oh, and just for giggles: The Red Sox are currently 29th in the AL and all of baseball with a Team ERA of 5.45.

Follow Avi Miller on Twitter @AviMillerBSR for up to the date Orioles news and daily farm system updates.