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Grand slam Delgado!!
I'll be blogging all on my lonesome today (well, me and the non-Torontonians) because most everyone else will likely be at the Baseball Prospectus Pizza Feed before hitting the Dome for what is hoped will be Roy Halladay's 22nd win. Roy will be looking for revenge on opposing hitters after being tagged with the loss against the Devil Rays following his ejection last week.

Terry Mulholland goes for the Indians. Spencer Fordin of mlb.com has already called this season a "runaway success" for the Jays, and they've surpassed my own expectations (83 wins) but I think they won't be happy without 85 for the team and 22 for HLH.

Enjoy!

To all the readers who offered kind words regarding these updates: thank you.

It will be Mike Mussina in game 1 against the Twins. Joe Torre has decided on three starters (Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens); the fourth hasn't been named. Rumour has it that it will be David Wells. Boston made the expected announcement: Pedro Martinez will start game 1 in Oakland.

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It looks like Baseball Almanac have already updated their list of players who have hit four home runs in one game. That was fast.
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Carlos Delgado is the best Blue Jay ever. Craig said it on the game thread, and if anyone else had any doubts, they should be long gone, like the slugger's fourth home run last night.

The picture is from MLB.com, where Spencer Fordin put the accomplishment in perspective.

Carlos Delgado stamped his name on the game Thursday night, showing off his prodigious power in a historic night at SkyDome.

Carlos Tosca agreed.

"The fans are going to leave tonight having seen a tremendous feat that's only been done a handful of times in the history of the game. It's certainly the most amazing exhibition I've ever seen on a baseball field."

No argument from J.P. Ricciardi.

"Today I was a fan. I just watched like everybody else," he said. "We watched history -- it's amazing. Anybody, whether they're a general manager or a coach or whatever, puts their fan hat on at that point. You're just in awe, watching a performance that you know you'll probably never see again."

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Part 9B of a 10-part series

When thinking about "favourite pieces of writing," Geoff Baker can look back on his time with the news desk at another paper, where as he recalls, "I chased a convicted fraud artist out of Montreal in 1994 for a highly-suspect theme park project he was promoting ... Real cloak-and-dagger stuff. Our stories got him arrested."

Speaking of fraud, from a sports angle, Baker says his expose of Tim Johnson and his Vietnam lies in 1998 "eventually got him fired and garnered worldwide attention at the time," while a piece on Carlos Delgado helping anti-Navy activists in Puerto Rico also drew widespread praise a couple of years ago.

"But I'm most proud of a 2,200-word feature I wrote on Eric Hinske and his football-playing brother in August 2002," he says.
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Part 9A of a 10-part series

For all the attention Richard Griffin and Geoff Baker have received here on Batter's Box, especially since this series started, sometimes maybe it's best to just let a writer's words speak for themselves. Not in defense, or in reaction -- just the words of a particularly favorite piece of writing.

"The best thing I've ever written and you have to remember I've only been writing for nine years," says Richard Griffin, "was a Jackie Robinson feature for his 50th anniversary as a Montreal Royal in 1996."

Griffin recalls that he "spent months researching his story and traveled to Montreal to interview Rachel Robinson. I have collected books on Robinson and the history of race relations in the States. I feel I know as much about the baseball pioneer as anyone."
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The NL Central will not be decided before Saturday and Florida has yet to clinch, but 6 other teams have claimed playoff spots. The American League matchups are now set: the Twins have announced Johan Santana as their game 1 starter (hooray!) in Yankee stadium and Tim Hudson gets the nod at home in their opener against the Sox. I'm not sure whether Houston or Chicago should be favoured to take the Central: both are at home against sub-.500 teams (Milwaukee and Pittsburgh). I'm half-rooting for the Astros to make it so that they can take revenge on the Braves and win their first ever post-season series (yes kiddies, it is possible to have a more miserable history than the Red Sox have). Of course if they are swept by Atlanta it will only add to the ignominy.

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Carlos Delgado should get a game-stopping ovation when he comes to the plate for the first time, and most of us will be holding our breath when he swings.

The Jays can finish with a winning record at home and surpass their preseason goal by taking two of three this weekend. A good effort by Cory Lidle in his farewell appearance will be helpful. It's the "lefty-proof" lineup, with Dave Berg and Tom Wilson among those facing hard-luck rookie Jason Stanford.

And so it comes to an end.

Often entertaining, occasionally frustrating and certainly tantalizing for the near future, the 2004 season of Blue Jays baseball comes to a close this weekend with a visit from a rebuilding Tribe club that is a little further behind the development curve, but definitely on the right track.

It's hard to assess Cleveland's results at the major league level, since they first lost Ellis Burks and Omar Vizquel to major injuries, and then had to endure the sight of Milton Bradley, Matt Lawton, Ryan Ludwick and now Billy Traber going down with season-ending ailments. Jays fans making the trip out to SkyDome will see a whole bunch of rookies -- some of whom are really quite promising.

But of course, that's not why Toronto fans will be there -- at least not the Saturday fans. Doc tries to put the exclamation point on his Cy Young season by facing a young, inexperienced lineup in front of what should be a nice crowd. A trio of southpaws will be opposing the Jays this weekend; here's hoping that Crash Myers gets at least a pinch-hitting appearance so the fans can vocalize their appreciation for his steady contributions, both on and off the field, in his return tour in T.O.

Finally, this is the last Advance Scout of the season. Many thanks to those of you who offered support, praise and constructive criticism for the column over the year; all three, particularly the third, remain more than welcome. The Scout column will return in April of 2004, and like Batter's Box itself, it'll hopefully be better than ever. Without further ado...

On to the Advance Scout!
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A light schedule today. Florida can clinch a tie for the wildcard and knock out Philadelphia by completing a sweep. Houston and Los Angeles are hoping for a Philadelphia victory - they need to win all their remaining games to overtake the Marlins. Houston is still in the NL Central hunt, but Chicago has a gimme today and should have Wood, Prior and Clement starting at home against the Pirates if need be. Boston can and should wrap up a playoff spot, with Derek Lowe opposing Omar Daal.

NL Central
TeamWinsLossesRemainingYesterdayScheduleElim
Chicago86724Cin 8-0  @cin 1, pit 3__
Houston85734SF 2-1   mil 43
St. Louis83763Mil 8-4  @arz 31

The Cubbies had no problem with the now hapless Reds. I expect Chicago to win today and eliminate the Cardinals, who have won 4 in a row in a game attempt to stay in the race. The Cubs will then be coming home, and the support of the crowd should help them maintain their 1-game edge over the Astros.

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You would think that a late-September game between a team that can only finish third and a club that has clinched last place would be meaningless, but that's certainly not the case. Whether you blame the bush league umpiring, MLB, Carl Crawford, or a pitch thrown at Ken Huckaby a year ago, there's no love lost between the Jays and the Rays. Tampa needs to win two of their last four to avoid another 100-loss season, and would like to leave town with a split. The home team, needing two wins to achieve their preseason goal, wants to make a statement by winning this fiercely contested set.

This was supposed to be Vinny Chulk's first big-league start, but that's something else you can blame on Phil Cuzzi. The rookie with the zero ERA worked three innings after Roy Halladay was ejected on Monday, so Pete Walker gets the nod tonight. The veteran righthander got the win with two scoreless relief innings in Baltimore on Sunday, and went five strong innings against the Tigers in his last start ten days ago. Since returning from the DL in August, Walker has a 3.00 ERA, and he hasn't walked a batter in four outings this month.
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No, not "break into the SkyDome". We don't encourage that; I think Jordan is still doing community service from his unfortunate sentence in the ill-fated "Operation Steal Gord Ash's Fax Machine" caper following the Shawn Green trade.
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I've ranted about this before, but I think it deserves a topic to itself: the current American League schedule is not fair to the Blue Jays.
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