A look at an AL East showdown and Orioles attendance

For years, they competed in the American League East. They competed for fourth place with the loser gaining the right to finish in the AL East cellar.

But in an attempt to turn the AL East standings upside down, the Orioles host Tampa Bay this weekend at Camden Yards with first place on the line. The clubs are tied for the division lead with identical 20-12 records heading into an important three-game series.

In a so far reversal of many years of fortunes, New York is in fourth place and Boston in last beginning play tonight.

After making the playoffs three of the last four years and winning two division titles, no one is surprised to see Tampa in this spot. Just about everyone is surprised to see the Orioles' lofty status at this point.

After getting one game in that Texas series - thanks to a very strong performance from Wei-Yin Chen - the Orioles are now a very respectable 6-4 with five games left in a 15-game stretch of games against AL contenders New York, Boston, Tampa and Texas.

The Orioles also have the best record of any AL East team in division games.

.667 (10-5) - Baltimore
.571 (8-6) - New York
.537 (7-6) - Tampa
.333 (4-8) - Toronto & Boston

Luke Scott returns to Baltimore tonight. He is batting .247 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 27 games. He ranks fifth in the AL in at-bats per home run at 13.3.

Meanwhile, what do you think the attendance will be this weekend?

Last night's crowd was 19,250 at the Yard and it sure seemed to be a very spirited crowd that was really into the game.

There has been a lot of talk about the attendance this week in Baltimore, around town and on the airwaves. Some fans were disappointed in the 11,000-plus turnouts of Monday and Tuesday against Texas, as the club returned to town off a 5-1 New York and Boston road trip and with baseball's best record.

I've said it many times the last few years. My opinion is that the weekend crowds will almost always be bigger, as will the crowds when the weather is warmer and school is out.

But the biggest issue is that the team must win over an extended perod to get the fans back. There is not a marketing campaign or TV promo that will get that done. Only winning will do it and not just winning for three weeks or 30 games.

The fans are just waiting to come back to the Yard in big numbers, but many need to be convinced the team has made a definite turnaround. But it is clear that the Orioles' good start has created a real buzz in Baltimore for baseball again.

Their good start is a good start in that process to get the fans back.

What is your take: How will the Orioles fare this weekend against the Rays? What is your take on the O's attendance and what it will take for the team to pack the Yard again?

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