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It's officially the dog days of summer in baseball. Our team of writers and handicappers gathered three of their top picks for Thursday's MLB action.

Baltimore Orioles (57-62) at Cleveland Indians (54-65)

The Cleveland Indians' five-game winning streak was snapped Wednesday, and with their season all but assured of ending in September, they're more concerned with the future.

The Indians hope to get a glimpse of it Thursday, when Zach Jackson - acquired as part of the CC Sabathia trade - makes his Cleveland debut in the finale of a four-game series against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

Jackson was one of four players acquired by the Indians (54-65) when they dealt their ace to Milwaukee last month, but Cleveland may not have been expecting much from Jackson after he had started the year 1-5 with a 7.82 ERA in 22 appearances for Triple-A Nashville.

Daniel Cabrera looks to follow suit as he tries to build on his first scoreless outing of the season. Cabrera (8-7, 4.78) had allowed seven runs in three of his previous four starts, but pitched six innings in Baltimore's 9-0 win over Texas on Saturday.

The right-hander has pitched well against the Indians in two career starts, throwing 14 innings and allowing seven hits and one run in victories in 2005 and 2007.

Pick: Baltimore - Best line +110 SBG Global

New York Mets (64-56) at Washington Nationals (44-77)

The New York Mets came through with a huge night at the plate to pull into a first-place tie in the NL East.

With one of the league's best pitchers of late starting their next game, the Mets might not need another big offensive performance to claim sole possession of the top spot.

After using their highest run total in six weeks to win for the fifth time in seven games, the Mets turn to Oliver Perez as they try to complete a three-game road sweep of the lowly Washington Nationals on Thursday night.

The Mets' success against the Nationals could continue if rookie Daniel Murphy stays hot. The 23-year-old outfielder went 3-for-6 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs Wednesday, and is batting .467 (14-for-30) with two homers, eight RBIs and seven runs since he was called up from Triple-A New Orleans on Aug. 2.

Pick: NY Mets - Best line -150 SBG Global

San Francisco Giants (50-69) at Houston Astros (61-59)

Houston Astros manager Cecil Cooper won't deny that his team got some lucky breaks in its last game. That doesn't make him any less proud of his club for capitalizing on those opportunities.

After taking advantage of some wild pitching to keep their winning streak alive, the Astros look to extend their season-high run to eight games as they try to complete a four-game home sweep of the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

Houston (61-59) lost outfielder Carlos Lee to a finger injury Saturday but went on to post its two highest run totals of the season in a three-game stretch, beating Cincinnati 13-4 on Sunday and San Francisco 12-4 on Tuesday.

The Giants will try to avoid the sweep as they face Astros starter Brian Moehler (8-4, 3.83 ERA) on Thursday. The right-hander held Cincinnati to one run and five hits in seven innings of a 3-1 victory Saturday, and is 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his last three outings.

Pick: Houston - Best line -155 SBG Global … -augu.html

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