Rivalry with Twins? Not until playoffs
When the Minnesota Twins and the Orioles squared off at the Metrodome last weekend, it was more than just another three-game series.
After dropping the first game, the Twins won the last two by coming back from a one-run deficit in their final at-bat.
Would it be fair to say that a rivalry is building between the teams?
No, say the Orioles, who might be more willing to attach the label if the teams meet come playoff time.
"[It's important] only because these are the last games before the break and we want to finish strong," said Orioles coach Davey Lopes. "It's irrelevant. We're playing who we play.
More important to the Orioles is making up ground on the first-placeToronto Blue Jays, who lead by four games.
Rick Sutcliffe said the rivalries in the American League really don't compare to the National League, where he played in Chicago for the past eight seasons. The Cubs have a big rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals, whom Chicago plays 18 times a season. The Orioles play just 12 games a season against Minnesota and the other teams in the American League West.
"In the National League if you struggled against one team, that hurt you a lot," Sutcliffe said.
Rivalry or not, Sutcliffe sees the games against the Twins, the first-place team in the AL West, as a measuring stick for the Orioles.
"There was some really great baseball played over the weekend, but the reality was that we lost two out of three," Sutcliffe said. "In retrospect it shows the final steps we've got to make to get where they've been. But I look at how far this team has come and I think there is a lot we can be proud of."
Thomas vs. Mussina
Chicago first baseman Frank Thomas missed his first game since Sept. 9, 1991, on Tuesday night when he was scratched because of a head cold, but found himself back in the starting lineup last night.
His return might have had something to do with Orioles starter Mike Mussina. Thomas went into the game 8-for-11 against Mussina, with two home runs, three RBI and two walks. In his first at-bat last night, Thomas singled to left field.
Speaking of Mussina, the right-hander was just 1 year old when his opponent last night, Charlie Hough, played his first major-league game on May 17, 1970. . . Glenn Davis's home run in the first inning ended a five-game homerless stretch for the Orioles, who hadn't gone six games without a home run since late in the 1989 season. Davis entered the game hitting .455 against Chicago this year, and .385 for the season.