BOSTON -- The final game of the three-game series between the Orioles and Boston Red Sox was postponed because of inclement weather yesterday, and probably will be played as part of a doubleheader when the club returns to Fenway Park on July 31.
Light rain turned to snow in the early evening and convinced Red Sox officials to call off the game more than an hour before the scheduled to 6:05 start. The Orioles took the opportunity to slip out of town early to prepare for the four-game series against the Detroit Tigers that starts tonight at Oriole Park.
Right-hander Mike Mussina was set to take the mound against left-hander Joe Hesketh in the deciding game of the three-game set, but Mussina will not be used in tonight's series opener against the Tigers. Manager Johnny Oates decided that seven days' rest was too much for veteran Rick Sutcliffe, so Mussina will start Saturday against left-hander Frank Tanana.
Sutcliffe will start as scheduled tonight against left-hander Scott Aldred, and Bob Milacki and Ben McDonald will stay on schedule for their starts on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Spot starter Jose Mesa will return to the bullpen for a couple of days, then start the first game of next week's series against Kansas City at Royals Stadium.
"You try not to upset the apple cart any more than you have to," Oates said. "This way, Mussina is the only one affected. Everyone else pitches on his scheduled day."
Except Mesa. But that's the role he was handed when he was the final pitcher to join the 1992 rotation. Moving around in the rotation is part of his job description.
"That's the way we started the season, with Mesa in the bullpen," Oates said, "so that's the way we'll keep it."
The Orioles probably weren't upset about missing a freezing night at Fenway. They won the opener of the three-game series on Monday in bitter cold, then lost under slightly better conditions on Wednesday. Last night promised to be particularly miserable, with rain and snow flurries expected throughout the night.
Still, Oates was not happy to have to shuffle his pitching staff, and heisn't looking forward to playing a doubleheader the next time the Orioles are in town.
"I hate doubleheaders," he said. "I just don't like having to be at the ballpark all day long and the toll that it takes on the club. It messes up your starting rotation. You've got to take someone out of the bullpen to start. It creates a lot of problems."
In the clubhouse, the Orioles weren't looking forward to playing two the day they come back here, especially if the Red Sox try to get them to play a split doubleheader. A day-night doubleheader allows the home team to clear the stadium and get another gate, but it is not a favorite of the players, who have to wait two or three hours between games.
The players have to vote to approve a split doubleheader.