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Alas, this will be the only October baseball played by the Fighting Jays. And after three pulsating games in Detroit, the meaningfulness of the games played by the Jays couldn't take any more dramatic of a turn than to check into the Bronx for three days against a team coasting towards yet another division title. That doesn't mean there's nothing to play for; two games out of three will bring the Jays back to 86 wins, just where they were three years and several million dollars ago. If that sounds familiar, you're either Mike Denyszyn, or your memory is scary-good.

As Mike D also said last year, "please feel free to offer comments and criticism about how to make [the Advance Scout] better". We hope you enjoyed reading these just as much as we enjoyed scrambling between classes to find out just how well Delmon Young hit lefties in Triple-A (answer: not very). The final Scout for 2006 features Tom Cheek's #1 Fan, a new infielder, and several other men making a fair bit of coin.

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Do the second-place (second-place!) Jays feel like helping the Twins? With 156 down and 6 to go, they can. Minnesota sits just 1 game behind Detroit and two of three by Toronto in this series could lead to Aaron Gleeman boasting about three division championships in four years.

But we're talking about the Tigers here. Tied for the best record in the majors with the Yankees, they clinched a playoff spot after beating the Royals on the weekend. This, of course, is the first time they've been in the playoffs since the Collapse of '87. They can -- nay, will -- clinch the division itself this weekend when they host Kansas City, since the season series is "DET 14, KC 1". Until then, however, the Jays face their youngest starter, their oldest starter, and a starter...for whom we have a picture.

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This is it. A mere 1.5 games behind the Red Sox, the good guys have a golden opportunity to swipe second place in this weekend's four-game set at the RC. But there's a catch: to liberate the metaphorical princess that is the AL East silver medal from the clutches of Boston, they'll need to slay a metaphorical dragon - four straight righthanded pitchers...

It's the last home series for the Jays before three-gamers in Detroit and the Bronx. Will they clinch second place and force Boston to accept the Robert Goulet Memorial Trophy?

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As Magpie discussed, this could be the series that sees the Yankees as division winners for the 54th straight year. New York has actually lost two in a row (shock and awe, I know); losing both games of a doubleheader to the Red Sox on Sunday. Before then, though, they had won 7 in a row and their recent THT sparkline ("up" for a win, "down" for a loss) looks like this: .

The immortal trio of Darrell Rasner, Jeff Karstens and Sean Henn are the probable pitchers for this three-game set. Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a law firm rather than a championship rotation? (Also note that Rasner will be going on three days of rest.) Anyway, with virtually no time to put together a preview of a team most readers already know pretty well in advance of a series that means very little to the home team at this point of the year, this Advance Scout will be more of a collaborative effort.

Call it groundbreaking, call it Wikipedia-like, call it a cop-out in favour of spending more time with the identity matrix. In any event, it's time to proceed...

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Not satisfied with one series from the 15th to the 17th of another month, these two teams are at it again in September. The Devil Rays, as is their wont, are not very good. They were swept by the Yankees, and didn't hold a lead after the first inning in either of the first two games. Their 19 road wins are the fewest in baseball; their 53 road losses are the most.

In other words: it's another team out of contention, and, due to the fun of university, another reduced Scout. Coming to you live between calculus and combinatorics...

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The one-man version of the two-man Advance Scout team continues this week as Alex finds himself leaving on a jet plane. Classes have started yet again for yours truly -- by the time you read this, I'll be in another one -- so this preview of two also-rans in late September is not as full of information as the preceding ones. I don't think King Felix will flirt with a no-hitter this time, but youneverknow.

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The Jays have been really good at drawing teams that are on big winning streaks. The Angels of Anaheim are no exception; they just swept Baltimore, and their pitching staff is on fire.

For the first time in a while, the Jays have an opportunity to play spoiler. If that's not enough to get you to watch, perhaps Sunday's pitching matchup is.

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Again, it's the Indians, and again, one of us is MIA - Rob is settling in to Waterloo and deprived of internet access.

What can I tell you that he hasn't already? Not much. But you'll see Wednesday starter Jake Westbrook, Travis Hafner's freak but non-severe hand injury, and the guy who hit a grand slam on his first major-league pitch if you proceed...

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It must suck to be a Red Sox fan, having been deprived of a World Series title for almost 35 months now. On a more serious note, the season is clearly over in Boston -- they are eight games behind New York after a month that Ben Affleck would like to forget, and they're slowly losing their mind. That is, their outfield.

Injuries have played a large part in this decline, as they've lost their three and four hitters, their shortstop, a corner outfielder, a couple of starters, and their No. 1 catcher. Sorry, I'm supposed to be talking about the Red Sox here. Okay, fine. But it's not going to be pretty.

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I'm flying solo this week -- the inimitable Alex Obal turned in his radar gun for a canoe paddle. It's not like he'll miss anything in the Indians-Jays series, involving a third-place team and a fourth-place team. But, hey, Joaquin Andujar's "youneverknow" warning must be recognized. After all, who expected a complete game shutout from Runelvys Hernandez?

This Scout features some interesting starters, Buffalo Bison after Buffalo Bison and a couple of my absolute favourite players.

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Oh great. The Royals.

If the Jays were a couple of games closer to the teams they're (theoretically) chasing, I would be psyched for this one. Christmas in August. Finally a break from the schedule maker. But now that the Jays need a miracle instead of a mere .700 run, this has all the trappings of one of those mid-September series at home against another eliminated team, and it's not even September yet.

At least you'll get to read about KC ace Luke H. from Tennessee and his dreaded one-seamer, Ryan Shealy getting his chance to shine, a 31-year-old rookie Disciple of Gagne and a guy who can jump over a car if you follow us...

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Maybe it was just a slow week for the A's, but this seems like a really boring team. Sweeping the Mariners is like the bus being on time -- yeah, it's cool and all that, but it's what you expected and five minutes later, you forget all about it. Not to mention that with Huston Street on the DL, I have very little reason to watch this series.

Nonetheless, you must read the Advance Scout if you wish to learn more than you'll ever need to know about Dan Haren; find out who the Mystery Tuesday Starter will be; and read about Kiko, Scutaro, the Big Hurt, and Swishahouse.

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Next up are the Orioles, who are coming off a rather convincing series victory over the Yankees. Ordinarily, a three-gamer with a fourth-place team would be cause for optimism, but if the Jays want to keep their momentum going and finish a successful road trip to this point on a high, they'll have to do it against Baltimore's top three pitchers...

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It's hardly a slow descent for Tampa Bay, a team that has lost six in a row. The Jays have won five of seven, but are still 7.5 games out in the division and 8.5 games behind the wildcard leader. A good series against Tampa Bay might get them closer, but the odds are stacked crooked against the Blue Jays. As for Tampa, it's all about the future -- um, well, it's not about 2006, anyway.

Read on to learn about a couple of new prospects, the best Korean pitcher on the Gulf Coast and the Lugo brother the Rays didn't trade away. That's right, it's time to proceed...

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Here's all you need to know:

Team A: 31-9
Team B: 36-37

The Jays have a four-game date with Team B; they dodge the dreaded Team A, and they have an opportunity to gain four games on wild-card leader Team A+B. This Scout will tell you who those "teams" are, along with a reference to Sparky Anderson, a stud pitcher (or two), and reliever walk rates in the chart that actually make sense.

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