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TONIGHT: Fearing rains late, Red Sox will go with Clemens in opener


Contemplating tonight's scheduled doubleheader with the Orioles (5:05, HTS), Boston manager Joe Morgan didn't mince any words.

"Roger [Clemens] and [Tom] Bolton, in that order," said Morgan. "And that's all I have to say."

On the surface the Red Sox do not appear to have the best possible matchups to win two games. But Morgan really has no choice but to lead his ace.

Last night's rainout caused only the slightest of changes in Morgan's rotation -- with Clemens pitching ahead of Bolton, who was scheduled to face Dave Johnson last night.

The Orioles are not changing their rotation. Johnson (4-6, 7.34) will face Clemens (17-8, 2.43) in the opening game. Bob Milacki (10-8, 3.83) and Bolton (8-8, 4.88) are the scheduled starters in the nightcap.

As originally scheduled, the matchups favored the Red Sox in both games, whereas the odds now lean toward a split. Milacki has been the Orioles' most dependable starter over the last three months and now he will not have to face the AL's best.

Despite strong overall numbers, Clemens has not had much success against the Orioles recently. He is winless in his last three starts against them (0-2, 2.41) and has won only once in his last five outings (a 6-4 win over Milacki Aug. 11, 1989).

Still, Clemens is the "horse" of Boston's staff. And with a precarious weather forecast, Morgan has no choice other than to start Clemens in the opener, just in case that's the only game played.

If rain forces another postponement tonight, the teams would be held over to play on tomorrow's off-day, probably in the afternoon, though that has not yet been decided.

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