Even if the Orioles aren't involved, somehow it seems fitting that a division race should make one last visit to Memorial Stadium.
A lot of championships have been contested, and decided, in the old ballpark. The electricity returns for one last visit during the next three days -- courtesy of the Boston Red Sox.
As recently as Aug. 7, the Red Sox were seven games under .500 (50-57) and 11 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto. But 31 wins in their last 42 games have put the Red Sox back into the title chase with two weeks left in the season. Despite yesterday's 10-inning loss to the Yankees, Boston trails Toronto by only 1 1/2 games after the Blue Jays' 3-2 win in Oakland last night.
The Red Sox have lost six of 10 games to the Orioles this year, but they won two of three last week in Boston and bring a 15-5 record this month into the series that opens tonight. One reason the Red Sox have been able to mount a challenge is the fact they have won eight straight games that have been decided by '' one run.
While the Red Sox are trying to close ground on first place, the Orioles will continue a much more modest quest -- catching the fifth-place Yankees, whom they will meet three times next week in New York.
Jose Mesa (5-11, 5.97), who pitched decently but without success against the Red Sox last week, will start for the Orioles tonight (7:35, HTS). He will be opposed by Mike Gardiner (9-7, 4.90), who was credited with the 7-5 win over the Orioles last Wednesday.
Dave Johnson (4-6, 7.34) and Bob Milacki (10-8, 3.83) will start for the Orioles the next two nights, facing Tom Bolton (8-8, 4.88) and Roger Clemens (17-8, 2.43).