WEEKEND: Making up for long absence, O's return in celebratory mood


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Following their longest absence from Memorial Stadium in nine years, the Orioles have a special occasion to kick off a 10-day homestand tonight (7:35, HTS) against the Seattle Mariners.

The game will mark the 1,500th consecutive game for Cal Ripken, the second longest streak in baseball history. The feat will be recognized in special pre-game ceremonies that will also recognize Ripken's selection as the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player earlier this month.

Ripken will be officially presented with his recently engraved All-Star MVP trophy and a mini-van will be presented to Baltimore Reads Inc., the charity selected by Cal and his wife Kelly. The Ripkens have been actively involved in the foundation that was formed in September 1988 to coordinate the city's literacy efforts.

The Orioles also have scheduled a pre-game ceremony tomorrow night to honor Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson, the pitchers who combined for a no-hitter against Oakland one week earlier.

Tonight's game begins a stretch that will see the Orioles play 20 of their next 26 games at Memorial Stadium, where they haven't played since July 3. The 15-day absence is the longest they've gone without a home game since July 1982.

Roy Smith (4-2, 4.55) will face Rich DeLucia in tonight's game, the first of nine games on this homestand.

Jeff Ballard (6-9, 4.69) goes against Bill Krueger (6-3, 3.00) tomorrow night (7:35), with Jeff Robinson (4-8, 4.61) and Brian Holman (9-9, 3.33) as the pitching matchup Sunday (1:35), with both games televised by Channel 2.

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