Under normal circumstances it could be said now is the time for the Orioles to make a move. Their next 13 games will be against Eastern Division rivals.
Unfortunately, the plunge they've taken in the first 34 games leaves some doubt that the Orioles can gain ground on the teams immediately ahead of them.
Until now the only division rival the Orioles have seen has been Milwaukee -- and they didn't fare any better against the Brewers (2-4) than they have against any team other than Texas.
Starting tonight, when they open a three-game series in Detroit, the Orioles play 13 straight games against the Tigers, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.
With the Orioles in the process of playing 39 games in 41 days, tonight's game most likely will mark a permanent return to a five-man starting rotation. A couple of those spots will continue to be subject to re-evaluation, but it is expected that manager Frank Robinson will go with five starters the rest of the season.
Detroit (17-18) also has been struggling, having snapped an eight-game losing streak yesterday. But the Tigers still are 4 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles.
Walt Terrell (1-4, 3.83), lefthander John Cerutti (0-1, 3.33) and Bill Gullickson (4-1, 4.89) are scheduled to pitch the series for the Tigers, whose staff ERA of 3.90 is much better than the Orioles' 4.69.
The Orioles, who finished 6-7 against Detroit a year ago, will counter with Bob Milacki (1-0, 1.69), Jose Mesa (4-4, 3.67) and Ben McDonald (2-2, 5.52).
All three games will begin at 7:35, with Channel 2 carrying the games tonight and tomorrow night and HTS on Wednesday.