But Mike Greenwell, the new young hitting star of the Boston Red Sox, isn't ready to concede a thing. He hit for the cycle and scored three runs Wednesday night at Boston to lead the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over Baltimore.
The second-year left fielder's hitting enabled the Red Sox to stay 4 1/2 games in front of the New York Yankees and set the stage for a showdown series. The Yankees and the Red Sox begin a four-game series tonight at Fenway Park.
Mainly because of Greenwell and Wade Boggs, left-handed hitters, the Yankees will defy the Green Monster in left field by starting three left-handers.
Greenwell hit his 21st home run in the second inning, doubled in the fourth, had a wind-blown triple in the sixth and drew a standing ovation when he singled in the eighth. He is the 17th Red Sox player to hit for the cycle. His 4-for-4 raised his average to .339 and he has driven in 110 runs.
Mike Boddicker, 6-3 since coming from the Orioles, gave up six hits and two earned runs in seven innings to improve his record to 12-15.
The performance was no surprise to Greenwell. After batting practice, he told teammates he was "going to have a big night," adding: "This is something you dream about, and to do it and help win a game in a pennant race is a great feeling. I knew I was feeling good, but I went in only 3 for 16.
"It's been tough to keep our concentration with everyone talking about the Yankee series. But we had to beat the Orioles and we did. Now we've got to beat the Yankees.
"When I went up there the last time I was hoping for any kind of bloop hit. It turned out to be a broken-bat looper, and it's the greatest feeling I ever had."
Asked about the series with the Yankees, Boston Manager Joe Morgan said: "I don't really get that excited. Oh, maybe when the game starts, but not after that. The rivalry is for the fans."
New York 7, Cleveland 5--Dave Winfield hit a drive over the center-field fence for a three-run home run in the first inning at Cleveland, and the Yankees held on for their sixth win in the last seven games.
After Dale Mohorcic checked a rally by the Indians to gain his sixth save, the Yankees started talking about the big series in Boston.
"The pressure's on them," Manager Lou Piniella said. "They're the team that's in first place. They're the ones that to have to hold on."
Realistically, the Yankees need to win at least three to get into a good position. If the teams split, the Yankees will still be 4 1/2 behind with just 14 games to play.
Toronto 3, Detroit 2--The injury-riddled Tigers staggered out of Toronto almost out of the pennant race.
George Bell singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to hand the Tigers their 19th defeat in the last 23 games.
When the slump began, the Tigers were leading the East by four games. As they head for home and a three-game weekend series with the Orioles, the Tigers are 5 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.
Milwaukee 4, Chicago 2--The surging Brewers moved into a virtual tie with the Tigers for third place, 5 1/2 games out in the East, by winning for the 11th time in 14 games.
Rob Deer and Robin Yount both drove in two runs to help Bill Wegman improve his record to 12-11.
The big problem for the Brewers is that they have 7 more defeats than Boston and only 15 games to play.
Texas 9, Oakland 1--Chad Kreuter, playing his first major league game, hit a leadoff single and a three-run homer during a nine-run fifth inning, and rookie Kevin Brown pitched a six-hitter in the game at Oakland.
The nine-run inning, with all the scoring off 18-game winner Dave Stewart, was the biggest of the season against Oakland, which leads the AL West by 11 1/2 games with 16 games remaining.
Seattle 2, Minnesota 0--Mark Langston held the Twins to three hits in eight innings at Seattle, and Steve Balboni hit his 20th home run.
The Twins trailed, 1-0, in the ninth inning Tuesday and rallied to win. But this time, Mike Schooler retired them in order for his 13th save.