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The Cubs have spent the last four years in the tank. They're loaded with promising offensive prospects now, and they've even found a few decent pitchers by accident. This figures to be their last meaningless September for a while.
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"If I'd told you in April that they'd be 3.5 games back of--"
"Oh just stop it already. I am so sick of that line. I don't care if they exceed my expectations, I'm not going to lower the bar retroactively every single day to make sure I can call the season a success no matter how lame or qualified. That's so stupid. They make the playoffs or they don't. And seriously, how big does the number have to get for you to quit saying that?"
"I... I don't know."
"Sounds like you've given up."
"You know what? If you told me they'd be 3.5 games back of the second wild card on August 15, I'd be disappointed. You're selling this team short. Big series this weekend."
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This will be a different kind of challenge.
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The Blue Jays, after a rainout on Tuesday in New York, get ready to battle the Yankees in a doubleheader on Wednesday before the series finale on Thursday.  They will be without shortstop Yunel Escobar, who has been suspended for three games after having a homophobic slur on his eye black during this past Saturday's home game against Boston.

Yunel Escobar, between Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo and Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, after an RBI single at the Dome April 11.  Will Escobar be back in Toronto next season after this recent controversy?
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The Jays kick off a 10 game road trip with a seven game swing out west, starting with the Mariners. Let's break it down quick, Advance Scout Style.
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Next up, it's the Tigers, who were awarded the AL Central title by acclamation last winter. After a sluggish first half, they're starting to play up to the hype. They called up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante from their NL affiliate on Monday, and they look good to go for the second half. The Jays will dodge Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but they'll still have to navigate a lineup featuring several high OBP figures at the top.
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Five days ago, the A's were under the radar and the Jays were finished. Tonight, they'll meet at the SkyDome in the biggest matchup on the baseball calendar. The rampaging A's have lost all of two games this month. They just hung a four-game sweep on the Yankees and have roared into the second wildcard spot. Their game centers around aggressive pitching and excellent defense, but this month they've also played some longball.
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The Blue Jays travel to Fenway to take on the Red Sox, who were late winners on a dramatic three-run home run by Cody "The Boss" Ross. Toronto is only 2.5 games behind Boston, and 3.5 out of the final wild card spot, but six teams stand between them and the postseason at the moment, and at a guess it's going to take a minimum 86 wins (and maybe closer to 90) to make the playoffs, so Toronto has to play well over .600 ball the rest of the season to have a chance, with games against other Wild Card contenders (basically everyone) counting especially. So let's see if they can do it - let's Advance Scout.
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It's time to find out what the 2012 edition of the Toronto Blue Jays is made of as they visit the Evil Empire for the first time this season.

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The Jays head to the Windy City for the second of three series they'll play against the White Sox, after which we head into the All-Star break. Toronto took two of three from the South Siders in their first matchup, but face one of baseball's hottest teams coming off a sweep of the Rangers. Plus, Youk!

Advance Scout: Activate
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The Blue Jays will try to shake off a disappointing series at Fenway, but to do so they'll have to beat the red-hot Angels. Los Angeles/Anaheim is 24-8 since May 22nd, and they've won 6 of their last 7. Toronto, meanwhile, continues to shuffle around at .500, which just means they're falling further and further behind in the AL East. Although they are only 3.5 out of the Wild Card, three teams currently stand between them and the playoffs. To make up ground they'll have to knock the tar out of the ball, because their pitching, what little there is of it, doesn't seem capable of keeping the team in games. What's gonna happen? Damned if I know. Advance Scout!
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The Toronto Blue Jays look to beat this man to start off the series at Fenway Park.

Boston Red Sox hurler Felix Doubront gets some work in from the bullpen at Target Field April 23

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Brett Lawrie makes his (figurative) return to Milwaukee as the Jays make their way to the Badger State for their penultimate interleague series of 2012. By my count Toronto is 6-6 so far against the Senior Circuit, and the Brewers and Marlins (next series) are the two weakest foes the Jays will face, so they stand a decent chance of posting a winning record against the NL, a heretofore rare occurrence for the boys in blue. With that being said, as of right now lists the Jays Tuesday and Wednesday starters as TBD, and the Jays have lost 10 straight in Milwaukee going back to 1996, so really, anything is possible.
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From the second place team in the NL East to the leader, the Jays tough interleague schedule continues. Most of the team's misfortune has occurred in NL parks; nevertheless they have the third worst interleague record of any AL team, behind only the lowly Royals and Orioles. It won't be an easy task to right the ship, as Toronto faces a Nationals team led by the most exciting young pitcher and hitter in baseball, both of whom are en fuego. Will the (not so cold anymore) north be enough to cool that heat? That's what the Advance Scout is here to tell you (plus next week's winning lotto numbers).
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The Jays travel to Hotlanta to take on a pretty good Braves team. Making matters more difficult, Toronto arguably gets the Braves three best starters, while the bluebirds will run out arguably their three worst (by ERA at least). It's a rematch of the 1992 World Series - let's hope that the winners are once again from the true north strong and free. Advance Scout, activate!
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