It won't be like the late-season series of a year ago, but the three games between the Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers this weekend could affect the American League East standings.
With a dozen games remaining, the Orioles have to be contenwith an outside shot at fourth place. That position is currently held by Cleveland, with Milwaukee a game back and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles.
These three games, plus the four in Cleveland next weekend, wildetermine whether the Orioles can salvage a respectable place in the standings even though they no longer have a shot at a .500 record. When the Orioles met the Brewers here last August, first place was at stake and the Orioles swept three games, beginning a slide from which the Brewers have yet to recover.
"The idea is to try to finish strong, to look at the young guys anfind something to build on," Orioles manager Frank Robinson said. At this point the position in the standings isn't as important as how the Orioles play.
"Winning two out of three from Boston after losing three straightough games in Toronto [all in the final inning], told me something about these guys," said Robinson. "You always want to finish on a high note, find something positive to carry over to spring training."
Pete Harnisch (10-11, 4.46), who could get three more starts treach or surpass .500, will pitch the series opener for the Orioles tonight (7:35, HTS), facing Ron Robinson (11-3, 3.09). Tomorrow night it will be Dave Johnson (11-8, 4.35) against Kevin Brown (0-0, 0.00). Ben McDonald (7-5, 2.84) faces Ted Higuera (10-8, 3.61) Sunday.
The Orioles need to sweep the series to pass the Brewers, whhave won six of the previous 10 games between the teams.