TONIGHT: Not even the kid in Oates can get him to toy with Birds' lineup


MINNEAPOLIS -- Don't expect John Oates to toy with the Orioles' lineup in an effort to produce more runs.

"That's the one thing we want to stay away from -- toying," said Oates. "We want to try and get these guys in positions where they feel comfortable and where they can do the best job.

"Actually, with Dewey Evans getting the day off I played around with the lineup about as much as I ever will tonight," Oates said last night. "Basically we only have three outfielders, so you have to work from there."

Evans most likely will return to the lineup as the designated hitter against lefthander Mark Guthrie (4-3, 4.46) in tonight's game (8:05, Channel 2). With that arrangement Joe Orsulak would remain in rightfield, with either David Segui or Jeff McKnight playing left.

The task of controlling the Twins, who lead the American League in a slew of offensive departments, will fall to lefthander Jeff Ballard (3-6, 3.99), who gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings at Fenway Park last Thursday.

"The way they are swinging the bat I'd be satisfied to hold them to three runs every time we played them," said Oates. "If we can do that, then it's up to us to score enough runs to win. You can't expect the pitchers to go out and hold them to one or two runs every game."

In two previous appearances at the Metrodome, both starts, Ballard has had decent success. He is 1-1 with a 3.46 earned run average in 13 innings.

The Orioles, who are 5-7 against lefthanders this year (the Twins are 5-5), have not faced Guthrie in a starting role at the Metrodome. His only decision against the Orioles was a win last year in Baltimore.

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