5 Things We’ve Learned from Baltimore Orioles’ First 40 Games

Baltimore Orioles: What We've Learned Through One Quarter of the Season

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In a tightly-packed AL East, the Baltimore Orioles entered play Friday night with a 21-18 record and a half-game lead over the New York Yankees at the top of the division, though, last-place Toronto is just 4.5 games behind. This is encouraging for the Orioles, who really haven't fired on all cylinders yet. Baltimore could run away with the East if things go right over the last 120 games. Here are five things we've learned so far.

5. Buck Showalter Still Loves What He Does

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5. Buck Showalter Still Loves What He Does

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An observation, and perhaps a criticism from some, is that Orioles manager Buck Showalter tends to only be at the top of his game for a short time for each club he manages. And while he leaves the club in better shape than when he got there, he doesn't take the final step toward World Series glory. But listening to Showalter in interviews and press conferences and watching him work, he's nowhere near done in Baltimore; good news for O's fans.

4. Ubaldo Jimenez Hasn't Pitched to His Contract

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4. Ubaldo Jimenez Hasn't Pitched to His Contract

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Baltimore hasn't often been a team to spend a great deal of money on pitching, so when the club splashed about million over four years to free agent starter Ubaldo Jimenez, it turned heads. The immediate return on the investment hasn't been what the Orioles hoped, though, Jimenez has thrown better recently. Still, he's 2-4 with a 4.02 ERA, and he's walked 22 in 47 innings. He has fanned 41, so there's hope. But he leads the O's in losses.

3. Nelson Cruz Has Paid Dividends

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3. Nelson Cruz Has Paid Dividends

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Another signing that raised heads was Baltimore nabbing Nelson Cruz. One part of it was where would Cruz play, either at designated hitter or in the outfield, where he tends to struggled defensively. And there's Cruz's past 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. But with 12 homers and 35 RBIs, Cruz has far and away been the Orioles' best offensive player.

2. Orioles May Need a New Closer

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2. Orioles May Need a New Closer

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When the Orioles traded Jim Johnson to Oakland in the offseason, it left a big gap at closer. Johnson led the AL in saves in 2012 (51) and 2013 (50). Tommy Hunter earned the closer job this year, and while he has 11 saves, he hasn't pitched well. Hunter (6.60 ERA) has given up 11 runs and 23 hits in 15 innings. He's faced 71 batters and only gotten 45 outs. Zach Britton caught the call earlier this week to save a game rather than Hunter.

1. Where Did Chris Davis Go?

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1. Where Did Chris Davis Go?

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Chris Davis is still with the club, of course, but the man who has powered 86 homers the last two seasons (including 53 last year) has but two in 2014 and is tied with Nick Markakis for sixth on his own team in homers. Davis has missed some games, but he's still homering just once every 47 at-bats. Last year, it was about one HR every 10 ABs. For a 28-year-old, that's a scary drop-off. This will be the story to watch the rest of the season.

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