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Well, the Jays are one game back of Coach's optimistic 24-23 prediction for the Jays' "midterm exam" in the Bronx this weekend. I think we'll let Toronto sit for the test. After the opening-week humiliation and dropping three of four in New York later in April, the Jays could be proud to earn a split in this four-gamer.

They have an opportunity to do so, with some Yankees seriously hurt and others playing through pain. After creating an "aura of invincibility" among even the more staid baseball scribes with their 18-3 start, the Bombers are just 11-14 since then. The Yankees have not been stellar in the field lately and feature several slumping hitters (gory details below). Kind of ominous deja vu, isn't it, after Konerko and Lee woke up this week in Chicago?

Forecast is for dreary weather here in the Apple, save for Sunday. I'll be checking out Wells-Lidle on Saturday afternoon from the upper deck, and will report back to the ol' Box.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Former Blue Jay Pat Borders is 40 and still playing in the minor leagues, for the Mariners AAA affilliate, the Tacoma Rainiers. And he's still having fun. That's noteworthy. On Wednesday night, Borders went 1-5 with a single as the host Rainiers fell to the visiting Sacramento Rivercats, 6-3, under the pleasant gray skies of the Pacific Northwest. That's not noteworthy. I should add that Borders singled against A's phenom Rich Harden. That's not noteworthy all by itself, but yours truly was there to see it. I file this scouting report for Batter's Box.
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Pedro Martinez has a sore back. Jose Contreras has $32 million; belated compensation for all that great pitching he's done in Cuba. Jason Giambi is pining for his "personal trainer and glorified go-fer". The Yankees also invested heavily in Jeff Weaver, trading Ted Lilly, Jason Arnold and John-Ford Griffin for an expensive fruitcake. The AL East race is a soap opera. The Blue Jays, relatively healthy and free of distractions, are watching the drama with interest.

As troublesome as the Yankees' bullpen and 1B problems are, the Mets are in an even bigger mess. GM Steve Phillips has a stalker, Mike Piazza might be out for the season (at least 8-12 weeks) and David Letterman has enough material to fill a season's worth of monologues and Top Ten lists.
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Mark Hendrickson isn't your typical 6'9" flamethrower. When he's on his game, Lurch uses finesse and control to keep hitters off balance, changing speeds and hitting corners. He induces ground balls with his slider and popups with a deceptive changeup, but he doesn't strike out enough batters to impress some observers. All he's done so far this month is win, and he's made just one poor start in his last eight. Most of the White Sox hitters have never seen him, usually an advantage to the pitcher.

Mark Buehrle is another lefty whose K rate is less than expected from an ace, but he was 39-21 heading into 2003, and picked up this season where he left off, going 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his first three starts. What happened next, nobody knows. He's lost six in a row, and was truly awful last time against the Twins, giving up 10 hits and a couple of walks in just 3.1 innings, for nine earned runs. Unless he makes a dramatic reversal tonight, the Jays' hitting machine should get back in gear.

Carlos Tosca is loading up with RH bats -- Reed Johnson plays RF and bats second, Tom Wilson is behind the plate, and Dave Berg makes his first start in a while, giving O-Dog a rest. Chris Woodward also returns after nursing a tender shoulder. This lineup makes Cat, Myers and Hudson available to pinch-hit, a tactical edge if it's close in the late innings. It's another radio-only game, as Sportsnet has Memorial Cup hockey.
Here's an idea I've been kicking around for a while. I had a slow afternoon at work, so I wrote it up. Think of it as either (a) a morality play directed at Toronto's baseball writers, or (b) a desecration of one of Charles Dickens' finest works. Either way, enjoy.
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In honour of the Jays' recent offensive surge, we're happy to announce our latest Batter's Box pinch-hitter: regular BB contributor Pistol, who's done a bang-up job surveying the likeliest top picks in next month's draft and forecasting who'll be available when Toronto's turn comes around. For an excellent summary of who's probably going where, read on:

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The Blue Jays pick 13th in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, which begins June 3. Admittedly, I know nothing about these players other than the very little Iíve read online and their statistics. I have no idea how they look in jeans.

The players are listed in order of my own personal preference, heavily influenced by the Jaysí philosophy of plate discipline and favoring college players. I ignore high school (HS) and Junior College (JC) players because one, the Jays are likely to only select college players, and two, HS and JC stats are really hard to find online.
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On a muddy diamond at Stan Wadlow Park, in the rain, the East York Goliaths defeated the Ursula Franklin Academy Flames 8-2 this afternoon to advance to the league semifinals and secure a spot in the provincial qualifying tournament. Unfortunately, we hit some "atom" balls and made several throwing errors, squandering a fine start (and a massive two-run homer) by captain Jesse Shreve.

It was a tough season for our little school, up against the city powerhouses, though I'm very proud of our fine showing in the 4-1 loss to Leaside. I'm pretty sure we'll be back in Tier II next spring, as it will be a rebuilding year with a very young team. I want to thank all the graduating seniors -- gentlemen, it has been a pleasure to coach you.

The Jays' waiver-claim lefty has a tough assignment tonight, trying to continue the club's winning streak and facing off against Hose ace Bartolo Colon. Davis had two strong outings against the World Champion Anaheim Angels (no matter how many times you say that, it still sounds odd), but got hammered by Tampa in his last appearance. Carlos Tosca thinks Davis pitched better than the result; we'll see tonight. The White Sox have some fearsome right-handed bats. Mike Bordick will again start for Chris Woodward (shoulder).

Hey, Toronto's above .500 and 13-4 in May! Life is currently good.
A very quick update today, catching you up on significant developments from last night's games:
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I spent some time today staring at the Blue Jays' statistics so far this year. (Since it's a rainy workday, and I needed to cheer myself up, I spent more time on the hitting stats than the pitching ones.) Here's a few interesting numbers for you:
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I promised I wouldn't pimp my A's "column" much, and so far I've stuck to it. To that end, Tuesday's update is not my best effort by any measure, noteworthy only in that I continue to pitch Batter's Box and Aaron's blog. The blogging community is fairly new, and I don't know what people expect when they launch their own blog. Whatever the case, it's worth promoting the ones that are good; BB is a good one, and so is Aaron's.
On top of the standings by eight games, after a 10-2 chest-thumping of Red Mosquitos. To maintain hope, the rest of us should compare Snellville's Gashouse Gorillas to the New York Yankees -- you know, the former 18-3 "greatest team ever" that has since come back to the AL pack at a 9-13 clip. For now, the Jones boys are cruising along at 34 games over .500 and a .702 win percentage, and they play the 19th-place team this week.

Billie's Bashers, in second place after a 10-1 victory over the slumping Garces_not_on_roids, could play the Red Sox role. Springfield Isotopes and Baird Brain, currently third and fourth, can be Oakland or Seattle. My Toronto Walrus team, back to fifth after getting clobbered 9-3 by the Chatsworth Halos last week, is starting to look a little like the K.C. Royals.
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Hard to imagine big Dan Wright being at his best tonight, with just two starts under his belt since returning from a "sore elbow" and facing the best hitting team in the major leagues. Last September, presumably healthier and fitter, he lost his only previous start against the Jays. Cory Lidle looks for his sixth W in a row, and has had much more success against the White Sox, going 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA the last three years. Only Magglio Ordonez, with seven singles in 10 AB, has done much against the Jays' righty. One team's on a tremendous roll, the other just got swept by their main divisional rival. On paper, it's a bit of a mismatch, which always makes me nervous.

Sore wrist and all, Eric Hinske's back at 3B, but Mike Bordick gives Woody a night off at SS. Unfortunately, it's the only TV game of the series, and Sportsnet has really dropped the ball by not including Thursday's opener in New York on their schedule.
Chicago's a team in trouble, no doubt about it. Other than our cutter-enhanced old friend, Esteban Loaiza, the White Sox have been getting pretty spotty starting pitching, especially from Mark Buehrle. The Jays duck Esteban and his improbably league-leading ERA of 1.99 this series.

But their pitching problems pale (or Pale, as in Hose) in comparison to their defensive woes. Dodgy fielding, erratic throws and a ton of wild pitches -- especially with promising but green Miguel Olivo behind the plate -- have been costing the White Sox close games, such as on Saturday and Sunday.

And even those difficulties are nothing compared with Chicago's wildly underachieving lineup at the bat. So many Sox are playing so far under their expected level of play that the axe fell on Gary Ward after yesterday's loss in Minnesota. Greg Walker makes his hitting-coach debut tonight at Ex-Comiskey Park.

The message has been sent to Konerko, Thomas, Ordonez et al., and the Jays can't expect a cakewalk this week. A win tonight would set a good tone for the series for our .500 boys, but a breakout game for Chisox hitters might wake up their bats that won't stay slumbering forever. Who would have ever guessed that as of May 19, the White Sox would only be able to count on sending Esteban Loaiza to the All-Star Game in front of their home fans in July?

On to the Advance Scout!
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I don't like to get excited over rumors, but Ken Rosenthal's piece speculating about what the Yankees might do to shore up their bullpen is intriguing.