TONIGHT: With Yankees series approaching, fourth place isn't that far away


A situation ripe with opportunity awaits the Orioles after the wrap up their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers tonight (6:35, HTS).

They will then head for New York for a four-game set with the Yankees starting tomorrow (1 p.m., Channel 2). Now that the Orioles are out of the American League East cellar, in sixth place, they can pull closer to the fourth-place Yankees with any sort of success this weekend.

It behooves the Orioles to make the most of this trip leading up to the All-Star Game break because they won't face any members in their weak division until Aug. 5. They will play Oakland, California, Seattle and Chicago in the interim.

This will be the Orioles' second encounter with New York. They dropped a three-game set to the Yankees here in late May.

Meanwhile, the Orioles' string of successful series is in peril. They have won three straight, but are tied with the Tigers at one apiece with tonight's game remaining. Not since June 1989 have the Orioles captured four straight series.

They were only a win away from reaching the .500 level for the first time during manager John Oates' tenure before their 4-3 loss to Detroit last night. They fell back to 18-20 under Oates, including 4-10 in one-run games. Half of Oates' defeats have been by one run.

In tonight's finale with the Tigers, Bob Milacki (4-2) will face Frank Tanana (5-6). Roy Smith (4-1) will open the series tomorrow in New York against Jeff Johnson (1-3), followed by Jeff Robinson (3-6) vs. Tim Leary (4-7) Friday night, Ben McDonald (3-3) vs. Scott Sanderson (9-3) Saturday and Jeff Ballard (4-9) vs. Wade Taylor (3-2) Sunday.

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