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Red Sox hope rain-outs don't stall drive Boston heals while team cools its heels waiting to play


The Boston Red Sox lost a full game in the American League East pennant race within 24 hours without ever setting foot on the Memorial Stadium field.

Yet, despite yesterday's second consecutive rain-out, the pursuers of the first-place Toronto Blue Jays are hoping the inactivity will not cost them the drive they have gathered in the past two months.

"I hate to say it, but this can make you stale, cost you your timing," said Wade Boggs after a scheduled doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles was postponed by the umpires after a near four-hour wait. "You don't gain any momentum with rain-outs, and right now that's what we need [momentum]."

Still, there were some positive notes to emerge from the delay for the Red Sox, who will pitch Roger Clemens and Joe Hesketh against Dave Johnson and Bob Milacki in today's 12:15 p.m. doubleheader.

"This will help [Jeff] Reardon [strain in the neck]," said manager Joe Morgan. "And [Ellis] Burks [bulging disk in his back] is a little better and might be ready to play by Friday. It'll heal up some people."

And they did not get into a situation in which a game that Clemens started was rained out before it became official. "From their standpoint, that's the last thing you want," said Orioles manager John Oates. "Clemens going three innings and the game getting called."

Although the Orioles have little at stake, Oates wouldn't have minded playing last night either because "this time of year you don't want rain-outs. You're all pumped up to play. But the umpires waited four hours and Jim McKean [crew chief] called me and told me it didn't look good. They did all they could."

With a forecast for rain ending overnight and clearing skies today, the decision was clear-cut.

Morgan said no one can forecast what effect the consecutive postponements will have on a team that has won 31 of its past 43 games.

"Who knows? Not I," he said. "We'll have a chance to go get them when the time comes up. We'll have plenty of chances to catch those Jays.

"The biggest negative would be a double defeat. But you can't tell. We might get two great pitched games. Certainly the two we're putting out there are capable of that.

"But it's tough winning a doubleheader. No question."

The Red Sox are 1-0-1 in doubleheaders, both against the Cleveland Indians, and the Orioles have swept two -- against the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. The Orioles have not been swept since Aug. 1, 1989, when the Red Sox did it at Fenway Park.

Boggs said all this is academic, as long as Toronto is winning.

"There's nothing we can do about that," he said. "We can play the best baseball in the world and it won't matter. We just have to put together a modest 12-game winning streak and see what happens."

Calling a game

Until the final series of a season between two teams, the responsibility for postponing a game before it starts belongs with the home club.

But in the case of last night's Orioles-Red Sox scheduled doubleheader at Memorial Stadium, the umpires had the call, according to rule 3.10 (a) in the baseball rule book.

It reads: " . . . When the postponement of, and possible failure to play, a game in the final series of a championship season between any two teams might affect the final standing of any club in the league, the president [umpires] may assume the authority granted the home team manager by this rule."

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