WEEKEND: Orioles need a clean sweep to push Yankees into basement


The matchup between the Orioles and Yankees this weekend is one that Basement Bertha could appreciate.

The only way the Orioles can escape from last place is to win the first three games of Johnny Oates' big-league managerial career. To understand the enormity of that task, consider that the Orioles not only haven't been able to sweep a series this year, they have been able to win only one.

Since beating Texas twice in three games April 12-14, the Orioles have gone winless in 11 consecutive series (0-9-2). Despite this, they haven't been able to shake the Yankees in the drop to the bottom.

The Orioles trail the sixth-place Yankees by only one game in the standings, so they at least have a mathematical chance of escaping the basement this weekend.

After going 13-21 in a stretch that saw them play 30 games against Western Division teams, the Yankees opened a string of 15 straight games against AL East opponents by dropping two of three in Cleveland earlier this week.

The Orioles have had an identical start in a similar part of their schedule. They lost two of three in Detroit to begin a 13-game stretch against AL East rivals.

In the series opener tonight (7:35, HTS), Jeff Robinson (2-2, 5.52) will oppose Scott Sanderson (4-2, 4.59) in a battle of righthanders. Tomorrow night (7:35, no TV) it will be Jeff Ballard (2-6, 4.27) against Pascual Perez (1-0, 0.00). The series finale on Sunday (1:35, HTS) will pit Jose Mesa (4-4, 3.90) against Chuck Cary (1-5, 6.63).

The Cleveland Indians will follow the Yankees into Memorial Stadium, opening a three-game series with a 6:05 game Monday evening.

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