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O's vs. Blue Jays preview: July 8-10

Congratulations to Orioles closer George Sherrill for being named to the American League All-Star team.

Is there anyone else who thought designated hitter Aubrey Huff deserved some consideration, particularly since Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz won't be playing?

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Anyway, the Orioles finished their final homestand of the first half in a disappointing way by dropping the final two games to the Texas Rangers. They went 3-4 on the homestand and what makes it worse is that they had a chance to win all four games they lost. Over the course of an entire season, it's those losses that separate the better teams from the weaker ones.

At 44-43, they'll need to win three of the six games on this road trip in order to head into the All-Star break with a record above .500. It would be a big moral victory – for the players and the fans – if they were able to do that, but it probably doesn't make that much of a difference in the bigger picture of the season. The Orioles should be able to finish the season with more wins than losses if they're able to win consistently at home and can play decently on the road for the rest of the year.

The Toronto Blue Jays haven't been playing up to expectations during the first half of the season. They are currently 42-47 and 13 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. They trail the Orioles by three games. The Blue Jays recently concluded a six-game road trip in which they went 2-4 against the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels.

Probable pitching matchups

Tuesday 7/8: Daniel Cabrera (6-4, 4.34) vs. Dustin McGowan (6-7, 4.36)

Wednesday 7/9: Garrett Olson (6-3, 5.04) vs. A.J. Burnett (8-8, 4.92)

Thursday 7/10: Jeremy Guthrie (5-7, 3.61) vs. Roy Halladay (10-6, 2.88)

Who you should play from the Blue Jays

Scott Rolen, 3B – Although he is only 2-for-18 in July, Rolen should be getting some playing time for your fantasy team during the Blue Jays' three-game series against the Orioles. In 35 career games against the Orioles, Rolen is hitting .293 with nine home runs, 26 RBIs and 23 runs scored. He's no longer a fantasy superstar, but Rolen is a solid option at third base that is likely available in most leagues. It might be a good idea to grab him and insert him in your lineup, particularly in deep leagues.

Who you should bench from the Blue Jays

Dustin McGowan, RHP – McGowan allowed three runs on 10 hits in six innings and suffered the loss against the Orioles on April 14 at Camden Yards. Despite his record (6-7) and ERA (4.36), McGowan is a solid fantasy pitcher because of his 83 strikeouts, which rank in the top 15 in the AL. However, he hasn't had over five strikeouts in a game since June 10. Throw in the fact that McGowan is 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA in seven career games against the Orioles (four starts) and it's probably a good idea to leave him on your bench for tonight's start.

Who you should play from the Orioles

Brian Roberts, 2B – OK, so there's only a slim chance that Roberts becomes the AL's final All-Star representative through the All-Star Game Final Vote, but that doesn't mean he can't continue to put up impressive numbers. He's hit successfully in 28 of 31 games since June 2, including 14 multi-hit games. In five games this month, Roberts is hitting .300 with two home runs, three stolen bases and eight runs scored. He leads the major leagues in doubles (32) and the AL in triples (seven). In five games against the Blue Jays so far this season, Roberts is 9-for-19 with two doubles and three runs scored.

Who you should bench from the Orioles

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Ramon Hernandez, C – After starting the season in a terrible slump, Hernandez is finally starting to hit at a better clip. He hit .273 with three home runs and nine RBIs in June and is hitting .318 with four RBIs in five games so far this month. Still, you shouldn't play Hernandez against the Blue Jays if you've added him to your fantasy team recently. In 65 career games against the Blue Jays, Hernandez is hitting .222 with four home runs and 30 RBIs. He is 1-for-14 with a double and one RBI in four games against them in 2008. Hernandez may have a solid series in Toronto, but it's probably safer if you play another catcher during this series.

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