(Through Thursday's games)Ups and downsPlayoff chances -...


(Through Thursday's games)

Ups and downs

Playoff chances - UP - Charge!

David Wells - UP - The Boomer comes up big in the first game of the Chicago series.

Starting pitching - UP - In fact, with the exception of Mike Mussina's outing Thursday, the starters have all been solid the last couple of times through the rotation.

The schedule - UP - Everything is working in the Orioles' favor from here on out. After the series in New York, seven games with Toronto, the definition of bliss.

Rafael Palmeiro - UP - Came up with a burst of production at the right time. Who is the Orioles' MVP, anyway? Raffy? Brady Anderson? Roberto Alomar? Mussina?

Cal Ripken - DOWN - A bookends year for him: Slumping at the plate, as he did early in the season.

Mark Parent - UP - As long as he and Scott Erickson have that good karma working together, Parent will play every fourth day.


"I didn't want to take the bat out of Eddie's hands. I've seen him do it too many times before."

Orioles manager Davey Johnson, on his strategy Wednesday night, when Eddie Murray drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th.

Orioles reliever Terry Mathews reached for a groundball with his barehand Wednesday night. This is not the time to be breaking a finger doing something like that.

Stat of the week

Since the night of July 31, the trade deadline, when the Orioles didn't send Bobby Bonilla elsewhere, he is hitting .432 with runners in scoring position.

The week ahead

Monday, vs. Milwaukee: The Orioles and Brewers play a makeup game from a rainout. Kevin Seitzer, Pat Listach and Greg Vaughn are gone. But the Brewers picked up six quality players in trades this summer, and that'll make them a deeper team.

Tuesday-Thursday, at New York: The Yankee Stadium crowd will be roaring in the three biggest games in the American League. Mike Mussina pitches Game 1 for the Orioles (likely against David Cone), while Andy Pettitte pitches Game 2 for New York against Scott Erickson. David Wells starts the third game for the Orioles. Loads of fun.

Friday-Sunday, vs. Toronto: The Orioles play their final three home games of the year against the Blue Jays. Toronto, which figures to finish with about 73-74 wins, likely will start ace Pat Hentgen in the first game, while the Orioles counter with Rocky Coppinger. Mussina pitches Game 2, Erickson Game 3.

The good

It figures. Summer turns to fall, the games start gaining importance, and Roberto Alomar's play begins to improve. He's one of the best big-game players in baseball.

The bad

It wouldn't be surprising if the Orioles decided to send Jimmy Haynes home for the rest of the year, to give the floundering prospect a break. His tank of confidence is completely empty.

The ugly

That 11-3 loss to the White Sox Thursday night was mindful of the poor efforts the Orioles turned in back in May and June, which is inexcusable this time of year.

A move that paid off ...

Manager Davey Johnson seemed to give up his four-man pitching rotation just at the right time, and Rick Krivda, starter No. 5, pitched well Wednesday, in the first of his two starts.

By the numbers

Denny Neagle's numbers since being traded to Atlanta: 14 runs in 17 2/3 innings, a 6.11 ERA, no wins, two losses and a no-decision. The Braves have gone 4-9 since dealing for him.

Darrell May became the 28th pitcher used by the California Angels in 1996 on Monday, breaking the major-league record of 27 pitchers. The 1915 Philadelphia Athletics, 1955 Kansas City Athletics, 1967 Mets and 1995 Marlins held the previous mark.

Seattle's Edgar Martinez (48 doubles) and Alex Rodriguez (52 doubles) have combined for more doubles than any teammates in 50 years. Mickey Vernon (51) and Stan Spence (50) had 101 doubles for the 1946 Senators. The record is the 116 doubles set by by George Burns (64 doubles) and Tris Speaker (52) of the 1926 Indians.

San Diego third baseman Ken Caminiti homered from both sides of the plate in the same game Wednesday, the eighth time the switch-hitter's accomplished that. Eddie Murray holds the career record, with 11.

Padres closer Trevor Hoffman has converted his last 12 save chances and has 36 overall, two short of the club record set by Randy Myers in 1992.

The Cubs have lost 31 one-run games, the most in baseball.

Toronto right-hander Juan Guzman is done for the year, after undergoing an appendectomy. He has a 2.93 ERA, and that should win the ERA title.

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