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I made my first trip to Camden Yards this season on Friday night. Good weather. A good pitching matchup. The home team playing well. It seemed like the right time. Some quick observations from the game before we get to some fantasy thoughts:

-- The ushers were RUTHLESS about letting fans move down to lower sections. I realize it was a "Student Night," and the middle school/high school/college kids tend to be rowdier than the average fan, but I was shocked to see people getting booted as late as the seventh inning. Does this always happen? I've never seen anything like it.

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-- The listed attendance was right around 25,000, and there were plenty of empty seats. You'll never hear me telling people to go to games -- how fans spend their money is none of my business, and we all know it isn't cheap. However, much has been made in the past couple weeks (as we celebrated Jackie Robinson's legacy) about the lack of interest in baseball among today's youth. Doesn't there have to be some way to get kids without the economic means to attend a game in the stands when the stadium is that empty? If you ask me, it would be a win-win situation. The game is always more exciting with a packed house. And kids would get more interested in baseball. I know when I was 10 or 11 years old, I got excited any time I got to go to a game -- and keep in mind, this was in Philadelphia (where the team was a perennial loser), and the venue was Veterans Stadium. Just thinking out loud here.

-- The Orioles have a pretty glaring advantage in the late innings of close games with the way their bullpen is pitching. Once they tied it Friday night against Toronto, you just felt like they were in control. This will be an interesting theme to keep an eye on all year.

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-- As I drove back home on 83 North, I noticed some of the lights in The Sun sign atop the newspaper building were out. It just read Sun. Isn't our motto "Light for All?" Hmm...I hope I don't get fired for this. If I do, it's been a good run.

And now on to the pitching matchups.

For the two-game series against Oakland:

Monday, 7:05 -- Erik Bedard (3-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (1-2, 1.44 ERA)

Tuesday, 3:05 -- Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Dallas Braden

Note: Braden has not been named the official starter, but he will get the ball according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

For the two-game series against the Red Sox:

Wednesday, 7:05 -- Daniel Cabrera (1-1, 4.10 ERA) vs. Curt Schilling (2-1, 3.81 ERA)

Thursday, 7:05 -- Adam Loewen (2-0, 3.72 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (4-0, 2.55 ERA)

For the series opener at Cleveland (starters aren't listed yet for the last two games):

Friday, 7:05 -- Jake Westbrook (0-2, 9.15 ERA) vs. Steve Trachsel (1-1, 4.37 ERA)

For the O's:

Who's hot?

Miguel Tejada - The O's shortstop is 8-for-15 (.533) in his last four games. Tejada's driven in five runs in his last two games and went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the team's 7-3 win against the Blue Jays Sunday.

Chris Ray - Has anyone else noticed what the O's closer has done since he gave up the walk-off grand slam to Alex Rodriguez? He's piled up five saves and two wins without allowing a run in eight appearances. Ray has struck out 12 in 10 2/3 innings this year.

Who's not?

Aubrey Huff - Slow starts are nothing new to the Orioles first baseman. He's currently stuck in an 0-for-15 slump and is hitting .206 overall. Huff looked frustrated at times this past weekend when he hit the ball hard but right at people.

Adam Loewen - It's a stretch, but I had to pick someone on the pitching staff. Loewen is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA in four starts. However, he's walked 12 in his last two outings and has yet to complete the sixth inning in any start so far this season.

For the A's:

Who's hot?

Eric Chavez - Keep in mind that as a team, Oakland is hitting just .231. Chavez hasn't been great, but he's been better than last year. Oakland's third baseman is batting .274 and has three hits in his last two games. Chavez struggled in '06, hitting a career-low .241.

Rich Harden - He'll miss his scheduled start Tuesday because of a shoulder injury, but Harden has allowed two runs or fewer in all three starts this season. Overall he's 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA, 20 strikeouts and six walks.

Who's not?

Mike Piazza - Oakland's new designated hitter is 3-for-26 (.115) in his past six games. Overall, Piazza is hitting .257 with one homer and five RBIs.

Justin Duchscherer - The A's reliever has a 6.75 ERA in eight appearances. In his last outing against the Rangers, he allowed three runs on two hits while walking two in 2/3 of an inning.

For the Red Sox:

Who's hot?

J.D. Drew - He's off to a good start in his first season with Boston, hitting .357 with eight RBIs and 11 runs scored through 17 games. Drew went 5-for-12 (.417) in his team's three-game sweep of the Yankees.

Josh Beckett - The Red Sox starter seems poised for a bounce-back year, with a 4-0 start and a 2.55 ERA. In his last start against the Yankees, Beckett allowed four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He posted a career-worst 5.01 ERA in '06.

Who's not?

Dustin Pedroia - In his first season as the club's everyday second baseman, Pedroia is batting .190. He's just 2-for-17 (.118) in his last six games. Pedroia hit .191 in 89 at-bats last season.

Julian Tavarez - Boston's staff has been very good so far. However, Tavarez has made two starts and is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He was OK in his last outing, allowing three earned runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays.

For the Indians:

Who's hot?

Travis Hafner - Cleveland's designated hitter is hitting .345 with four homers and 13 RBIs. Last year, Hafner hit .308 with 42 homers and 117 RBIs.

C.C. Sabathia - He's 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 27 strikeouts in four starts. Sabathia has gone at least seven innings in three straight outings. He's struck out 18 batters in his last two starts.

Who's not?

Jhonny Peralta - Cleveland's shortstop is batting .216 and has struck out 17 times in 15 games. He's 2-for-26 (.077) in his last eight games. Peralta hit .257 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs in '06. The previous season, he hit .292 with 24 bombs and 78 RBIs.

Jake Westbrook - He's been shelled in two of his four starts this season. Overall, Westbrook is 0-2 with a 9.15 ERA. He's struck out 13 and walked 11.

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