The remote possibility of moving up another notch or two in the standings isn't the only thing occupying the mind of Orioles manager Frank Robinson these days.
In keeping with traditional thinking of making a team earn a title, Robinson already is mapping out his pitching rotation for the last three days of the season.
The Orioles will host the Toronto Blue Jays in those three games, beginning a week from tonight in Memorial Stadium. It is Robinson's plan to have his three most effective starters ready for those games.
His biggest problem may be deciding which two pitchers precede Ben McDonald, who is scheduled to pitch the final game of the season. As the rotation now stands, Pete Harnisch and Dave Johnson will pitch the first two games of the series. That would give the Orioles their three biggest winners (excluding disabled reliever Mark Williamson, 8-2) to throw at the Blue Jays.
"But what about [Jose] Mesa?" Robinson asked of the righthander who has gotten steadily better in each of his five starts. "What would be wrong with him pitching one of those games?"
The only problem is that Mesa (2-2, 4.22) is scheduled to pitch tonight (7:30, HTS) against the New York Yankees and Saturday against Cleveland. The rotation would have to be altered for Mesa to be available for the Blue Jays. "That is a possibility," Robinson said.
Anthony Telford (3-2, 3.47) and Harnisch (11-11, 4.34) are scheduled to pitch tomorrow and Wednesday night against the Yankees. Harnisch has acknowledged a mildly tired arm, so if he gets a win in New York, Robinson might be inclined to assure him of better than a .500 record and move Mesa into his spot against Toronto.
Mark Leiter (1-1, 9.39), Dave Elland (0-1, 3.93) and Chuck Cary (5-11, 4.40) will go for the Yankees.