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Maybe this is what new Orioles president Andy MacPhail was waiting for. The Birds have looked impressive since Dave Trembley took over for Sam Perlozzo as manager, looking inspired and appearing to have a purpose.

Yesterday's 10-7 win over hapless Tampa Bay was the team's fourth straight and the ninth in the last 12 games. But with the Yankees coming in this weekend for a three-game set and the completion of a suspended game tonight, the Orioles will get a measure of how different a club they are from when Trembley took over.

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The Yankees come into Baltimore on a bit of a roll, yesterday's 7-0 loss to Kansas City notwithstanding, and look a lot different than the team the Orioles handled easily earlier in the season. Taking two of three from the Yankees, who lead the suspended game 8-6, may provide an indication that things really have turned around in the Orioles' clubhouse.

It may also give MacPhail a sense that he doesn't need to make a major deal before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, because most of the important pieces to spur the club's turnaround are already here. Shortstop Miguel Tejada will return to the Orioles' lineup from a three-game minor league rehabilitation stop to prove that his injured left wrist is healed.

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While Tejada, who saw a lengthy consecutive games streak end with his injury returns, longtime umpires attendant Ernie Tyler, one of the true good guys at Camden Yards, will see his remarkable streak of 3,770 games worked, dating to 1960, end, as he heads north with the other half of Baltimore to see Cal Ripken enter the Hall of Fame Sunday.

If you're heading to Oriole Park tonight for the conclusion of the suspended game, thinking you'll see Alex Rodriguez's 500th career home run, don't worry, you won't. But if he hits one in the regular game, then you will see history. Confused? Welcome to the arcane world of baseball statistics.

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reported yesterday that because the suspended game started last month, all stats and records flowing from that game revert back to then. While Rodriguez hit No. 499 the other night in Kansas City, any home run hit in tonight's first game will be considered under baseball rules as being hit in June, making it the 494th of Rodriguez's career and the last homer he hit the 500th.

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