Behind The Scenes

O’Brien, McDonough assess AL East intrigue tonight on ESPN, ESPN2

Everywhere you look, people are curious about how Andruw Jones and the Yankees will fare in the AL East pennant chase. (Credit: Getty Images)

ESPN play-by-play veterans Dave O’Brien and Sean McDonough know a little something about the American League East.

O’Brien (or “OB” as he’s affectionately called) leads local Red Sox radio broadcasts, while McDonough was the longtime TV voice of the Sox.

On Wednesday, both Boston-area natives will tell one of the most compelling stories of the baseball season when the division’s top three teams (Yankees, Orioles and Rays) — separated by just two games — compete simultaneously, while the Red Sox look to play spoiler.

O’Brien will be joined by analysts Nomar Garciaparra and Curt Schilling and reporter Pedro Gomez for ESPN’s 7 p.m. ET Yankees-Red Sox full national telecast. McDonough and his Monday Night Baseball teammates Aaron Boone, Rick Sutcliffe and Tim Kurkjian will call Rays-Orioles simultaneously on ESPN2.

How will you tell the story of both the Yankees-Red Sox and Rays-Orioles games?
O’Brien: It’s great for baseball to have nights like this. We are approaching the Yankees-Red Sox telecast knowing there is an all-encompassing nature to this night. We will reference the Rays-Orioles game constantly, because it’s such a huge game. We’ll tell the tale of those two teams throughout the night. We will also talk with the Yankees and [New York skipper] Joe Girardi about how they feel about the Orioles and Rays.

McDonough:This is a big night. All we have to do is set up the situation. The Orioles are tied for first with New York and there are only three weeks to go in the regular season. And, the Rays are right behind them with all three teams involved in the Wild Card race. Our viewers understand the importance of these games. Our studio operation always does a great job with constant updates for the Yankees-Red Sox game so they will let us know what is happening any time the score changes. Our job is to respond to the cut-ins and put the situation in context.

What are you most looking forward to about Wednesday’s night?
O’Brien: It feels like the last day of the 2011 season when we had four games simultaneously that would affect the playoff picture. It’s a three-team race and one of these teams is going home. I think for me, what’s interesting is there are comparisons you can draw between the 2011 Red Sox and the 2012 Yankees right now. I’m looking forward to what Nomar and Curt have to say about it. The great thing about Curt is that he pulls no punches on whatever he’s going to say. His opinions tend to be right. He tends to nail it.

McDonough: There is heightened drama because of the totally unexpected presence of the Orioles in the playoff race. Baltimore is a great story. After 14 losing seasons, how is this happening? We need to discuss how the O’s are in this position despite a negative run differential.

The Rays and Orioles are dueling tonight on ESPN2. (Credit: Getty images)
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