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The White Sox find themselves buried in fourth place in the AL Central, a mere 1.5 games ahead of Kansas City. Their starting pitching isn't the problem: they've received ERAs of 3.23, 3.71 and 4.15 from their top three starters, who coincidentally are the three men the Jays have to deal with this weekend.
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After neatly disposing of Felix Hernandez, the Jays move on to an even more daunting adversary: Johan Santana. He'll face Shaun Marcum in a quality pitching matchup tonight. Thereafter, the Jays will see two righties they've already seen twice this year.
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Of course, it became apparent to me very quickly that they had no extraordinary talent at all. They have fought their way out of a number of tight corners by a simple combination of sheer luck and J.J. Putz. They are mediocre to the last degree, though as obnoxious and self-satisfied as were the White Sox before them. The Jays will do their utmost to have them thrown out of the pennant race, where I believe they scarcely belong...
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The Yankees reclaimed second place in the AL East over the weekend by taking three of four from the Devil Rays. They'll try to make up some more ground on the Red Sox this week by throwing their Japanese import, their struggling ace, the 44-year-old guy they signed in midseason and their sinker master at the Jays.
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Ordinarily, I'd beat myself into a frenzy in this introduction and bellow vaguely inspirational platitudes like "IT'S ON!" which, really, shouldn't be necessary given the name of the opponent and range of dates in the header immediately above this sentence. But I won't, because the reality is that it isn't on. Not yet, anyway. Ten games out of first place, the Jays have to serve Boston back to some degree in the second half before anyone in Blue Jay land can make any truly credible claims that it's on.

But the Jays are 2-0 at Fenway this year, and the two Sox who started those games also pitch the first two of this series, and it's only the middle of July, so there is hope.
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The Jays get one last chance to head into the all-star break above .500. But to do so, they'll have to sweep the powerhouse Indians, who will likely be in a foul mood after absorbing two straight beatings at the hands of the Tigers.

This series features one favorable pitching matchup (tonight's) followed by two very intriguing ones on the weekend.
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The bad news is that Oakland's a good team that's just beginning to learn how terrifying its best 9-man lineup can be. The good news is that Oakland's strong bullpen is thoroughly depleted and the Jays avoid Dan Haren.
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Happy Canada Day, boys and girls. The Jays will spend this holiday weekend in Seattle trying to cool off the rampaging Mariners, who just swept Boston in a thrilling three-game set. Seattle trails Wild Card leader Cleveland by 2.5 games, and has 4.5 games on the Blue Jays. The Jays can't catch the M's this weekend, but they do have a great opportunity to do some damage against some of Seattle's weaker pitchers.
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Incredibly, this four-game series will be the Jays' third straight trip to Minnesota without facing the best pitcher in baseball, and their second straight in which they'll only have to deal with one of M and M. However, their hitters will still be challenged: they'll see two killer Bs with good K/BBs and a pair of the stingiest control pitchers around. These may not quite be the real Twins, but this is still going to be difficult.
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Right here.

Seriously, y'all want more? Y'all people are vultures.

I'll do my best. The Rockies are steamrolling anything in their path. This series should be a three-day slugathon. Halladay, Marcum, Jeff Francis and Rodrigo Lopez are going to sit this one out. The guys who do pitch will have their hands full.
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The Jays return home to face the rampaging Nationals, who are closer to their division leader than the Jays are. Led by its no-name rotation, Washington is slicing through middling AL teams like a sand wedge through sand. Can the Nats keep it up at the Dome?
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The Jays take their two-game win streak to the China Basin Retirement Castle. They'll see two soft tossers and then Tim Lincecum. They also get to deal with the Barry Bonds circus, stuck on 746 homers for two weeks and eager to break out against any righty foolish enough to stake a claim to the outside corner. And Bengie Molina.

First person to crack a joke about how Bengie is a giant gets blackballed from all Advance Scout afterparties until Bengie's next triple.
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Once again, here's Rob.

Alyssa Milano, I mean, Dodger Stadium welcomes the Blue Jays this weekend for the first time since June 2002, when shortstop (!) Dave Berg hit second, Justin Miller couldn't get through the first, and Roy Halladay got a complete game win. Jays fans are thankful that only one of those events is possible five years later.

Alex's week might be brutal, but so is having to put up with interleague play. Jeff Kent agrees with me, which is slightly disconcerting. Aside from that, this Scout features the likely reality of two top-priced tickets for a Twins game; Jim and Pam's new six-player chain to Tinker, Evers, and Chance; an impatient power-less lineup; and Jamie Campbell saying "East York" a lot.
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This week's previews come to y'all from an Advance Scout Icon who appreciates Rays beat writer Bill Chastain almost as much as I do. Take it away, Rob Pettapiece:

Alex probably figured his week of finals was bad enough without bringing the Devil Rays into it. So here I am, and here we are at yet another Toronto-Tampa Bay series. And no, I'm not sick of scouting the Rays. Why do you ask? The copyeditor is getting tired of this team, one would infer, since Saturday's headline read "Rays, Jackson lose in multiple ways." Read on anyway to learn more about Jonny Gomes' new career, Shawn Riggans' absurdly long scouting reports, Joe Maddon's man-love for his shortstop, and Akinori Iwamura's friend named Nuts.

On to the Advance Scout!
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The .500 White Sox come to town. There will be aces tonight, strikeouts tomorrow, McGowan-Contreras Saturday and kids Sunday. Should be a fun series.
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