The Baltimore Orioles are one of only five AL teams with a negative run differential. They are in the bottom half of the league in runs scored and runs allowed. And they play in the toughest division in baseball.
Despite all that, the Orioles currently hold a wild-card spot.
Being on the winning side of 13 straight one-run games will skew those numbers.
So how are they winning all these close games?
After finishing second to last in the league in bullpen ERA the previous three seasons, the Orioles boast a 3.03 ERA this year, third in the AL.
And past the sixth inning, the Orioles' pitching is even better with a 2.81 ERA, second only to the A's in the AL.
Baltimore's clutch hits have usually come by way of the long ball. The Orioles have hit 55 home runs in the seventh inning or later, second only to the Yankees.
Late power hitting and a solid bullpen have helped mask some of the Orioles' flaws.
But the key to making the postseason will be how they fare against their division foes. Starting with this weekend's series against the Yankees, the Orioles will play 26 of their final 32 games against the AL East.
While the stats don't fully explain how the Orioles are winning, the two teams Baltimore is fighting for the division title -- the Yankees and Rays -- have impressive numbers. The Yankees are fourth in the majors in runs scored, and the Rays sport the best ERA (3.27) in all of baseball.
But at this point, all that matters are the standings. And according to that, the Orioles are right in the hunt.
- Jeffrey Tomik