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O's vs. Athletics preview: May 5-7

The Orioles began their road trip on a positive note with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night. After a good start to the series, the team dropped the last two games by three runs total. The Orioles will now play the Oakland Athletics for three games before concluding the road trip with four games in Kansas City against the Royals.

In his first start this season, Garrett Olson earned the victory after allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. It will be interesting to see if Olson can duplicate that performance against the Athletics tonight. Last season, Olson was 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA in seven starts, so another solid showing would help to erase those memories and build his confidence.

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Like the Orioles, the Athletics are surprising a lot of experts who didn't expect them to be very competitive during the 2008 season. During the offseason, they traded Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox, Mark Kotsay to the Atlanta Braves and Dan Haren to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In exchange, they received a bunch of prospects and appeared to be in a rebuilding mode entering the season.

However, they're currently 19-14 and one game behind the Angels in the AL West. Over the weekend, the Athletics dropped the first two games to the Texas Rangers before winning yesterday's series finale, 3-1. Former Oriole Jack Cust hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning to give the Athletics the victory.

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Pitching matchups

Monday 5/5: Garrett Olson (1-0, 2.70) vs. Dana Eveland (3-2, 3.67)

Tuesday 5/6: Brian Burres (3-2, 2.87) vs. Justin Duchscherer (2-1, 2.40)

Wednesday 5/7: Jeremy Guthrie (1-3, 4.06) vs. Joe Blanton (2-5, 3.88)

Who you should play from the Athletics

Emil Brown, OF – Brown has proven to be a nice addition to my fantasy team in an extremely deep league – 20 teams with 25 players on each team. Brown is hitting .271 with three home runs, 26 RBIs and 19 runs scored in 118 at-bats this season. In 14 career games against the Orioles, Brown has two home runs and seven RBIs.

Who you should bench from the Athletics

Jack Cust, LF/DH – Cust has been on fire lately. He's 8-for-14 with three home runs, four RBIs and five runs scored in the first four games of May. Nonetheless, he shouldn't be active in your fantasy lineup while the Orioles are in town. The Orioles will be sending two left-handed starters (Olson and Burres) to the mound during the series and Cust only has a .215 career batting average against lefties. Although he's hitting well recently, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Athletics give Cust an off day during this series.

Who you should play from the Orioles

Melvin Mora, 3B – A lot of people might be in search of a third baseman since Alex Rodriguez is on the disabled list. In the three games in Los Angeles, Mora was 6-for-11 with one home run and three RBIs. While he shouldn't be counted on for consistent production, Mora provides fantasy owners with a nice alternative option when he is hitting like he did against the Angels. Pick him up if he's available in your league.

Who you should bench from the Orioles

Adam Jones, CF – Jones was 0-for-11 during the three-game series against the Angels. There are probably some owners out there, particularly in keeper leagues, who are wondering when they should insert him into their starting lineup. He's been very inconsistent so far this season. There have been games in which he has looked completely clueless at the plate, but then he'll have three hits the following day. Don't get rid of him, but keep him on your bench until he shows that he is capable of consistent production in the major leagues.

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