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The Jays start their final road series of the season tonight, as they face an Orioles team that has recently been exuding confidence on the field but angst off the field, as Peter Angelos & Co. fret about the increasingly likely probability that the Expos will take up residence in nearby Washington in the very near future.

This week's Scout features plenty of D.C. talk, a surging pitching staff and its scuffling supposed ace, a cagey veteran making a difference and a Oriole regular who -- thankfully -- has turned down The Bachelor and its unique nether region of reality-TV hell.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Only time for a brief Scout report today, as the Jays pay their final visit of the year to St. Petersburg.

Old friend Mark "Lurch" Hendrickson gets the ball tonight in place of the nicked-up Scott Kazmir. Lurch went two innings on Tuesday in getting the win in relief, so he'll likely be on a short pitch count. Sunday's game will feature Gustavo Chacin's attempt to raise his 2004 record to an amazing 21-2 when combining his New Hampshire, Syracuse and Toronto efforts.

On to the Advance Scout!
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The Jays pay their last visit to the Bronx this week, and should bring a stiff challenge to a Yankees club playing great baseball, but possibly a tad hungover from their rousing series win against their hated Boston rivals.

Above all, it's the pitching matchups that make this series compelling. Tonight, fresh after sipping some Eastern League championship champagne, Gustavo Chacin gets the ball against an obviously power-packed Yankee lineup, but one that will be missing Gary Sheffield (see the Scout for details.) Wednesday, Ted Lilly and Orlando Hernandez will reprise their masterful duel from late July. And tomorrow, in about as unambiguous of a "Good vs. Evil" matchup you'll ever see, the reigning Cy Young winner will return in a Blue Jays uniform, squaring off against none other than E-----n L----a in pinstripes.

This week's Scout features a sizzling left side of the New York infield, a record-breaking Canadian, and a slugger who not only is playing like a shell of his former self, but likely feeling like one, too.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Simply put, the Jays need a series win if they hope to avoid the ignominy of finishing last in a division that includes...well, the Devil Rays. Tampa comes in following some uneven play in Fenway Park; like the Jays against the Orioles, an excellent pitching performances was accompanied by two mound meltdowns. Scott Kazmir's Toronto debut on Sunday, though, should be interesting to watch.

Today's Scout features an extraordinary collection of not-ready-for-prime-time promise, a strong-armed outfielder starting to get a clue at the plate, two old friends in deep funks and a pitcher who might not only be an easy mark tonight, but an injury risk.

On to the Advance Scout!
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With a Tuesday off-day thoughtfully inserted to accommodate the World Cup of Hockey, the Orioles come into town with some struggling bats. After Justin Miller and Ted Lilly registered solid outings last week in Anaheim, they should each have an excellent opportunity to extend their personal winning streaks this week.

This week's Scout features a young closer on the trading block, a Canadian who unfortunately looks like yet another young arm headed for the surgeon's table, and a shortstop that's been worth the (ample) money for the O's. Also, check out (and please weigh in on) the controversy brewing with Rafael Palmeiro's contract. The O's are rumoured to be considering Palmeiro, Delgado or Richie Sexson to play first next season...but they may be starting a war with one while alienating the other two. Or is it "just business?"

On to the Advance Scout!
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Toronto takes on a struggling and desperate Ranger squad now on the fringe of the AL West division race. Texas won ten games in a stretch of fourteen in August; meanwhile, Oakland, Anaheim and Boston each won thirteen of fourteen. Losing three games in the standings while playing .714 ball seems to have sucked some energy out of the Rangers, as they have lost nine of the last eleven. The Jays have the opportunity to drive a few more nails into the Ranger coffin before Texas finishes the season with twenty straight against division rivals.

On to the Advance Scout!
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After a feisty three-game set in which they deserved more than the one victory they got, the Jays have a chance to inflict more harm on an AL West contender, as they hit the Big A for a three-game set. For their part, the Halos need to make hay against our heroes, as their two playoff targets -- the Red Sox and A's -- are playing a key zero-sum series in northern California.

This edition of the Scout features a recovering slugger, a veteran's untimely swan song, an outfielder who is no doubt hearing a bunch of "point and click" jokes, and a raw callup who can really rake. The Jays get another shot at Kelvim Escobar tomorrow night, which is reason enough to follow this series.

On to the Advance Scout!
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The A's are amazing. Every year, right after the All-Star Break, they start playing excellent baseball. Every year, they gain separation from the pack with a red-hot August. Every year, they coast to a playoff berth by showing no mercy to out-of-contention opponents with a strong September. And every year, they confidently march into the playoffs, only to play the Division Series, hey, did I mention that they play great in September?

This week's Scout features a Canadian on a roll, a fading first-year player, a red-hot reliever and some fine play from the infield corners. Plus, check out which A's starter might present the best opportunity for the Jays to steal one this weekend; it may surprise you.

On to the Advance Scout!
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After a tough go against the Red Sox and Yankees, the Jays' homestand continues -- this time as decided "overdogs." A punchless Mariners squad comes to town for what could be three tight, low-scoring affairs.

This week's Scout includes some down years by distinguished players, a trailblazing rookie pitcher trying to make a difference, and the longest bullet point in Advance Scout history. But it's for a good cause -- an in-depth discussion of the simply incredible hot streak a certain rightfielder from Japan is on.

On to the Advance Scout!
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The effort's been there for the Jays over the last couple of weeks. Now's the time to get some results, by scoring some runs against a struggling starting staff in what could be a very entertaining four-game set at the Dome.

This week's Scout features a scuffling megastar, a slugger reliving his Little League days, a trio of superstars enduring down years and a closer as dominant as ever.

Oh, and E-----n L----a. Can't forget him.

On to the Advance Scout!

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Just a quick report today, as I'm approaching a perfect 10.0 on the busy scale. Enjoy the weekend!
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Yikes. After some desultory play over their last dozen games, the Jays face a hungry and hot-hitting Red Sox club, playing in one of the most difficult parks in which to steal a series.

That said, the White Sox managed to do just that this weekend, thanks to a struggling Boston pitching staff. Between Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield, the Jays might finally get to inject some power into their offensive attack. With Pedro going tomorrow night, though, Ted Lilly might have to win that game all by himself.

This week's Scout features a bevy of blistering bats, a blistered and battered starting pitcher and a much-maligned third base coach that, well, ought to be maligned.

On to the Advance Scout!
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As Frank Zappa would have it: What's New In Baltimore?

The RED HOT Orioles (winners of nine of ten) arrive at SkyDome fresh off a series win in Anaheim over the Angels, who had been red-hot themselves. The Jays, as everyone knows, are slumping badly and now trail the Orioles for third place by eight games. A sweep would put Baltimore at .500, about where everyone expected them to be starting this season.

On to the Advance Scout!
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The Tribe have dismantled and rebuilt in surprisingly short order, competing for the postseason at least a year before most though possible. Cleveland won three of four against the rapidly declining White Sox, and the Indians now stand alone in second place for the first time in 2004 with a season-best record of 58-55. Last week, Cleveland split a four-game series with Toronto.

On to the Advance Scout!
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My road trip starts today! Hence, the abbreviated Scout. Stay tuned for pinch-hit columns for the Tribe and O's next week.

The Jays kick off a series against a team not only with A-Rod, but Tanyon Sturtze, Felix Heredia (now demoted) and E----n L----a! Finally, all elements have come together and we have an opponent we can truly dislike.

I'm off to nine games in ten days. Full report to follow!
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