The Orioles entered the All-Star break in first place for the first time since the 1997, creating plenty of excitement as they try to advance to the postseason for the second time in the last three years.
In honor of this, The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 examined what things went right and what went wrong in the first half of the 2014 season. Luke Jones handled the positives while Drew Forrester took a look at the negatives as the Orioles own a four-game lead over second-place Toronto and are 52-42 on the season.
Luke Jones’ Top 7 Things That Went Right …
7. Kevin Gausman
Even with the Orioles bouncing him back and forth between the majors and Triple-A Norfolk, the 23-year-old pitched to a 3.29 ERA in seven starts and will finally have a chance to remain in the rotation for good in the second half.
6. A 9-3 record in extra-inning games
An incredible 16-2 record in extra innings was a trademark of the magical and surprising 2012 Orioles, but this year’s club has done almost as well in extra frames with one of the best bullpens in the American League.
5. The consistency of Adam Jones
For all the handwringing over his plate discipline and inability to draw walks, Jones overcame a rough April to post a .301 average with 16 home runs and 54 runs batted in while teammates such as Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy struggled in the first half.
4. Steve Pearce
Most wouldn’t have expected the 31-year-old journeyman to have even made the team in spring training, but Pearce has become an everyday player with a .316 average, 11 homers, 31 RBIs, and a .383 on-base percentage in 209 plate appearances.
3. Zach Britton
The lefty entered the spring with no minor-league options remaining and no clear role, but he not only became a critical piece in the bullpen but eventually replaced closer Tommy Hunter to collect 15 saves and post a tiny 1.30 ERA.
2. Nelson Cruz
A one-year, $8 million contract was all it took as Cruz is second in the majors with 28 homers and carried an up-and-down offense for large stretches of the first half while others battled injuries and inconsistency.
1. A 26-18 record in an underwhelming American League East
The Orioles deserve full credit for taking advantage, but the weakest AL East we’ve seen in years has Baltimore poised to win its first division crown in 17 years with just one other team above the .500 mark at the break.