TONIGHT: Storming past Tigers again would be fitting salute on troops night


Independence Day festivities get an early start tonight at Memorial Stadium where it will be "A Maryland Salute to the Troops Night." More than 6,000 Operation Desert Storm troops and their families will be guests of the Orioles in game two of a three-game Detroit series.

Pre-game ceremonies include a fly-over by A-10 jets and Cobra helicopters, and addresses by Adm. David Jeremiah and Gov. William Donald Schaefer. The national anthem will be sung by Alvy Powell, the man who sang at President Bush's inauguration. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Desert Storm veteran Charlene Perkins.

The troops will get neon caps, and all fans entering will get pompons, courtesy of Merry-Go-Round Enterprises. Is this Boogie Weinglass' first step in buying the Orioles?

Baltimore has certainly upped its value lately, if not in potential owners' eyes, then in the eyes of those who track wins and losses. With a win tonight, the Orioles will capture their fourth straight series victory, a feat they have not accomplished since 1989, when they won series over Chicago, Cleveland, Texas and Detroit during a stretch from May 22 to June 4.

A win also would improve the Orioles to .500 (19-19) under manager John Oates.

Jeff Ballard (4-8, 5.06 ERA) will try to extend the Orioles' three-game winning streak, and right himself in the process. Ballard gave up 10 earned runs in three innings last week in Cleveland.

"Jeff has had bad outings like that before," pitching coach Al Jackson said. "And he is going to have more. But I think what you really look for is the strength of an individual to bounce back. And Jeff has been able to do that."

The Tigers send their most productive starter, Bill Gullickson (9-4, 3.94), to the mound.

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