If O's tie for division, they could be losers Yankees have edge if tiebreakers applied to settling AL East title

Orioles Notebook

September 09, 1996|By Buster Olney and Jason LaCanfora | Buster Olney and Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

The Orioles may automatically lose the American League East title if they finish in a tie with the New York Yankees, one of the several tiebreaker scenarios for the AL playoffs.

AL vice president Phyllis Merhige gave a cursory explanation yesterday of how the playoff teams will be determined, in the event of ties:

Should the Yankees and Orioles finish in a tie for first in the AL East, and they have two of the four best records in the American League, there would be no playoff for the division title. The division winner would be determined based on play between the two teams -- and the Yankees, who have won eight of 10 games against the Orioles, with three games to play -- would be the champions.

If the Yankees and Orioles finish in a tie and another second-place team -- the White Sox, for example -- have a better record than both teams, then the Yankees and Orioles would play a one-game playoff for the division title and the one playoff spot.

If the Orioles were to finish in a two-way tie in the wild-card race, they would play a one-game playoff. If they were to finish in a three-way tie, then lots would be drawn and the three teams would play off.

For example, should the Orioles, White Sox and Boston finish in a three-way tie for the wild card, then lots would be drawn. Suppose the White Sox and Orioles were to draw lots as Team 1 and Team 2 -- they would play on Monday, and the winner would play Team 3, the Red Sox, on Tuesday, for the wild-card spot.

Kingsale a hero at home

Eugene Kingsale may be the last player on the Orioles' bench, but he's a national hero in his homeland.

Kingsale, the first Aruban to play in the major leagues, spoke with his family on Saturday and discovered he's the talk of the country.

"My mom was so glad and happy to hear from me," Kingsale said. "My dad was so excited. People are calling my house like crazy asking about me. Yeah, I think I'm like a national hero. . . . But I'm still going to be the same person. I'm not going to let it go to my head."

Zeile moving around lineup

Manager Davey Johnson is taking advantage of Todd Zeile's bat all over the Orioles' lineup.

Zeile hit safely in his first eight games as an Oriole before going 0-for-3 yesterday. Zeile batted third yesterday after hitting in the No. 2 spot on Saturday. He began his stint with the Orioles hitting sixth.

Zeile is valuable because he's a right-handed hitter with some power, something the Orioles are short on. When he is sandwiched between left-handers in the lineup, it makes it difficult for opposing managers to bring in a right-handed reliever, because that pitcher would only match up with Zeile and then likely would be replaced by a left-hander.

"There's a couple of reasons why he's hitting third," Johnson said. "Number one, Robbie [Alomar] has been struggling a little bit, and Zeile will be hitting third with a left-hander [Rafael Palmeiro] behind him. So maybe Alomar hitting second with a right-hander behind him might help him out.

"And Zeile's hitting the ball as good as anybody I've got in the lineup, and not striking out, so he's a pretty good three-hole hitter."

Surhoff to see doctor

B. J. Surhoff was out of the lineup for the second straight game. Johnson decided to rest Surhoff on Saturday with the intention of playing him yesterday, but Surhoff has had lingering back pain.

Surhoff saw a doctor yesterday and will do the same today to determine the extent of his injury.

Pete Incaviglia replaced Surhoff in left field, but he left the game with leg cramps after hitting a single in the eighth inning. Incaviglia immediately pulled up after hitting the ball and limped to first base before being replaced by Brent Bowers. Incaviglia said he should be ready to play today.

Around the horn

Tigers third baseman Phil Nevin, whose career-high 10-game hitting streak ended, left the game with a sprained ankle in the fifth inning. Nevin caught a pop-up with three Tigers converging, then fell back and hurt his ankle. Nevin had eight RBIs in his past five games. . . . The Triple-A Rochester Red Wings beat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 6-2, to win their International League playoff series, three games to one. The Red Wings will face the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees' top affiliate, for the championship.

Hits and misses

On the field: Former Orioles farmhand Kimera Bartee stifled his former teammates with a couple of tremendous catches, going to the wall to rob Rafael Palmeiro in the first inning and reaching up to steal an extra-base hit from Roberto Alomar in the seventh.

In the dugout: Orioles manager Davey Johnson began to walk out of the dugout with two outs in the ninth inning to relieve Alan Mills with Randy Myers but thought better of it and left Mills in to get the last out of the game. Mills improved his record to 2-1.

In the clubhouse: "We couldn't get to 10 games over .500 all year -- we were [stuck] at nine. Today's a big win. It's bigger than people think it is." -- Orioles rookie Rocky Coppinger, who threw seven strong innings yesterday.

Pub Date: 9/09/96

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