At The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas
Day Time TV Starters
Tonight 8: 05 HTS Jason Johnson (6-7, 5.89) vs. Esteban Loaiza (8-4, 4.85)
Tomorrow 8: 05 HTS Scott Erickson (14-11, 4.76) vs. Rick Helling (13-9, 4.71)
Radio: All games on WBAL (1090 AM) and WTOP (1500 AM)
So much for two weeks of cotton candy and peach-fuzz pitchers. Now the scalding Orioles get to chew on the meat of their September schedule with a season-ending, 14-game stretch against playoff contenders. The fun begins tonight against the Texas Rangers, 41-22 since the All-Star break and 6 1/2 games on top in the AL West. Their division lead has been no fewer than four games since June 15 and they have held at least a share of the top spot for 166 of the season's 169 days. While Cal Ripken closes in on 3,000 hits, Rangers designated hitter Rafael Palmeiro gives chase for the Triple Crown and an MVP award. The Orioles exile (.335, 44 home runs, 140 RBIs) has 32 RBIs in his past 25 games. His 15 home runs and 39 RBIs in August gained him co-AL Player of the Month honors with Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who enters tonight with a 14-game hitting streak and a .375 average in his past 56 games. The Rangers and Cleveland Indians are the only major-league teams to have five 20-home run players. The Orioles have been competitive (4-6) against the Rangers despite suffering a 6.41 ERA and surrendering 19 home runs in 87 innings. How? Because they've blasted Texas for a .337 average, 16 home runs and a pair of 16-5 wins.
(Rangers statistics, 6D)