White Sox at Orioles
The difference is pitching. In 1996 the Baltimore pitching staff produced one shutout, which tied the American League record for fewest in a season. This season behind the arms of Scott Erickson, Jimmy Key (right) and Mike Mussina, plus the relief mastery of Randy Myers, the Orioles as of last Friday had seven shutouts and the American League's best record (55-31), with nine more wins at midseason than a year ago. Yes, the Baltimore hitters still go long in Camden Yards (103 home runs) and Cal Ripken Jr. still plays each day, but this year the Orioles are scarier on the mound than at the plate.
•FOX, 1 PM
United at Wizards
Despite having the MLS's second-best record (12-6) as of last Friday, Kansas City ranked last in attendance (8,661 a game). Why aren't more Missourians off to see the Wizards? Because, because, because, because.... To tell the truth, the citizens of the Show Me State have no excuse. K.C. has demonstrated its wizardry by drubbing defending league champ D.C. United 6-1 and had won six of its last eight games. Midfielder Preki was the league's leading scorer, with eight goals and nine assists.
•ESPN2, 8:30 PM
The last time the British Open was held at Scotland's Royal Troon, in 1989, the regulation 72 holes ended in a three-way tie, and Mark Calcavecchia outdueled Wayne Grady and Greg Norman (right) in the tournament's unique four-hole playoff format. But Calcavecchia hasn't won a major since, and Grady is still looking for his first. Norman won the '93 British Open but has failed to survive the cut at this season's first two majors. Should Tiger Woods win for the seventh time this year ($1,761,033 thus far in 1997 winnings), the world will bear witness to the PGA Tour's first two-million-dollar-man march.
•ABC, 930 AM
Mile High Nationals
Blaine Johnson had won three events and was the leader in the National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel standings when his car slammed into a wall and he was killed last August—making him the first Top Fuel dragster fatality since 1971. Instead of closing shop, Blaine's brother and crew chief, Alan, invited Gary Scelzi to replace Blaine this season. All that Scelzi, a 36-year-old rookie, has done in 11 starts is win four races and stake the Alan Johnson team to a commanding lead in the points standings. "There was only one Blaine," says Scelzi, who keeps a picture of his predecessor in his dragster's cockpit, "and it will always be that way."
•ESPN2, 6:30 PM
Mercury at Monarchs
Summertime and the Mercury is soaring in Phoenix. Before the debut of the WNBA, this was hardly headline material. In fact, when Australian native and Phoenix point guard Michelle Timms (above) boasted in the preseason that the Mercury was going to be "the running team from hell." not a few pundits noted that at least she got it half right. But as of last Friday, Tank Girl, as Timms is known for her blonde punk hairdo, was second in the league in steals (3.29 per game) and tied for fourth in assists (5.6), and the Mercury—who will beat the heat with this visit to second-place Sacramento—was atop the Western Conference thanks to its up-tempo style. Credit coach Cheryl Miller with instilling an attitude, says Timms, "that makes you want to give 110 percent." In a city where the mercury hits 110°, who could ask for less?
•ESPN, 8:30 PM
All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.