O's try to make road setup for home closer Successful trip vital in AL East race

September 13, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

There might not be a single person on the Orioles' roster who is more eagerly awaiting the nine-game, 10-day road trip that begins today than second baseman Harold Reynolds.

Reynolds has nothing against Camden Yards. In fact, he can't wait to get back here in 11 days to start the final homestand.

It's just that for maybe the first time in his career, a team he is playing for is taking a September road trip that is meaningful.

"It didn't matter whether we [Seattle Mariners, his previous team] were here or anywhere, we were out of it," said Reynolds. "It's going to be fun going to Fenway with the rivalry and everything."

And so, before the Orioles can tangle with Detroit, New York and Toronto in the season's longest and biggest homestand, they'll have to get through the most important road trip of the year.

"This is real big. Huge," said first baseman David Segui. "Of all the road trips we've taken this year, this will be the biggest."

This trip, with swings through Boston, Milwaukee and Cleveland, has the potential to make the final 10 home games critical or

useless.

"Every game is important," said pitcher Ben McDonald. "It's not do-or-die, but we still need to play well. If we go 3-6, there's a good chance the games at the end will mean nothing. We can't expect to just make it up here. You can't catch a team like Toronto with nine games to go if you're five or six back."

Segui agreed. "Everybody looks at the last two series [against the Yankees and Blue Jays], but if we have a bad road trip, all that will mean nothing," he said.

Of course, all the games, home and away, count equally in the standings. But the rigors of travel and the time away from comfortable beds and predictable routines make the road a tricky place.

"It's a little tougher, sure," said outfielder Lonnie Smith, a 14-year major-league veteran who has played for four different pennant winners in his career. "But if you think about it, you could come off this road trip if you've done well and be a little more relaxed when you come home."

The Orioles, who are 34-38 on the road this season, will not be able to match last year's 46-35 away record, even with a 10-game sweep.

But if the recent past is a reliable predictor, the Orioles may do well over the next 10 days.

They are on a seven-game road winning streak, though their wins came in the final game of the series against Texas, after they had been battered in the first two games, and over California and Oakland, who occupy fifth and seventh place in the American League West.

But the Orioles did meet Boston, Milwaukee and Cleveland on a similar road trip in June and went 7-3, taking three of four from the Red Sox, and two of three from both the Brewers and the Indians.

Of the three teams the Orioles will meet, only Boston is still in the pennant chase, though the Red Sox, who trail Toronto by seven games, could see their hopes vanish if they are swept.

Boston's pitching probables for the Orioles series include two former Cy Young Award winners, Frank Viola and Roger Clemens, who will pitch tomorrow and Wednesday.

Clemens is 10-5 lifetime against the Orioles with a 2-1 mark this season, which includes a 4-0 shutout May 11 at Oriole Park and a 4-2 win at Fenway on June 13.

Viola is 9-8 overall vs. Baltimore with an 0-1 record this season, taking a 2-1 loss at Fenway June 10.

Tonight's Boston starter,John Dopson,who lives in Finksburg,lost his only decision of the year against the Orioles, 16-4.

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