DETROIT -- At the beginning of the season, fifth place didn't even enter into their thinking, but with six games left it is a goal worth attaining for the Orioles.
As such, manager John Oates said the next three games in New York and the final three at home against Detroit this weekend carry more meaning than might be expected under the circumstances.
"Fifth place means something to me," admitted Oates. "Personally, even though we didn't play that great and they [the Indians and Yankees] had to come back to us a little, I'd like to finish two places higher than we were when I took over.
"We'll play these last six games the same way we've been playing the last three weeks," said Oates. "We won't be doing that much experimenting. Our pitching is set and the lineup will pretty much be determined by the pitchers who face us.
"I would've liked to have won the last seven, because that would've kept us from losing 90, but realistically winning four or five would be nice," he said.
The Orioles open a three-game series against the Yankees tonight (7:35, HTS), trailing by one game. That means they need to win two games to move into a tie or sweep to take sole possession of fifth place.
Bob Milacki (10-8, 3.97) will be making his next-to-last start of the year against Wade Taylor (7-12, 6.27) in the opener. Tomorrow night Arthur Rhodes (0-3, 9.00) gets his final chance this year to record his first major-league win, going against Pascual Perez (2-4, 3.15).
Jeff Ballard (6-11, 5.34) will make his 22nd start of the year and first since being recalled from Rochester Sept. 4 in the series finale Thursday night, when the Yankees will pitch Jeff Johnson (5-11, 6.08).