AL Wild Card Preview

At 8:37 on Friday night, the Baltimore Orioles look to return to glory when they head to Texas to take on the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers in a single-elimination Wild Card game. The winner will take on the New York Yankees. What can you expect?

THE ROSTERS:

Courtesy: MLB

Baltimore Orioles

(2) Catchers: Matt Wieters, Taylor Teagarden

(7): Infielders/Utility: Mark Reynolds, Robert Andino, Omar Quintanilla, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, Eric Flaherty, Jim Thome

(5): Outfielders: Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Nate McLouth, Endy Chavez, Lew Ford

(11) Pitchers: Joe Saunders (starter), Tommy Hunter, Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, Steve Johnson, Darren O’Day, Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz

Courtesy: MLB

Texas Rangers(3) Catchers: Mike Napoli, Geovany Soto, Luis Martinez

(6) Infielders/Utility: Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Jurickson Profar

(5) Outfielders: Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin

(11) Pitchers: Yu Darvis (starter), Scott Feldman, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Michael Kirkman, Joe Nathan, Roy Oswalt, Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross, Koji Uehara, Yoshinori Tateyama

THE PITCHING MATCHUP:

Courtesy: ESPN

Joe Saunders, LHP, Baltimore Orioles2012: 9-13, 28 starts, 4.07 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 174.2 IP, 112:39 K:BB

2012 vs. TEX: No appearances against Texas during the 2012 season

Career vs. TEX: 3-7, 11 starts, 6.48 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 58.1 IP, 48:20 K:BB

Career at The Ballpark at Arlington: 0-6, 6 starts, 9.38 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 31.2 IP, 24:16 K:BB

Career in the postseason: 0-1, 4 starts, 6.00 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 18 IP, 8:12 K:BB

Courtesy: ESPN

Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers2012: 16-9, 29 starts, 3.90 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 191.1 IP, 221:89 K:BB

2012 vs. BAL: The first start against Baltimore of 2012 will be Friday.

Career vs. BAL: The first start in his career against Baltimore will be Friday.

Career at The Ballpark at Arlington: 10-2, 14 starts, 3.88 ERA, 1.28 ERA, 92.2 IP, 111:39 K:BB

Career in the postseason: Darvish is a rookie in MLB. Friday will be his first postseason start.

TOP PERFORMERS IN 2012:

Baltimore Orioles

Runs: Adam Jones, 103

Hits: Adam Jones, 186

Doubles: Adam Jones, 39

Triples: Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and Nick Markakis, 3

Home Runs: Chris Davis, 33

RBI: Chris Davis, 85

Stolen Bases: Adam Jones, 16

Average: Nick Markakis, .298

OPS: Adam Jones, .839

Texas Rangers

Runs: Ian Kinsler, 105

Hits: Adrian Beltre, 194

Doubles: Nelson Cruz, 45

Triples: Elvis Andrus, 9

Home Runs: Josh Hamilton, 43

RBI: Josh Hamilton, 128

Stolen Bases: Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, 21

Average: Adrian Beltre, .321

OPS: Josh Hamilton, .930

What to Expect:

Texas was fantastic at home in 2012, going 50-31 (.617) and scoring 5.52 runs per game while allowing 4.62 runs per game. The Rangers went 5-2 and outscored Baltimore 56-24 in their seven meeting in 2012.

Baltimore had a fantastic season and they were written off by many, including myself, but they have hung around. They were 29-9 in one-run games, which is either luck or fantastic managing by Buck Showalter. Now with one game, they put all of their eggs in the Joe Saunders basket.

With Saunders hideous statistics in six career starts in Texas and four career postseason starts, it was a shock to see his name appear as the starter for this one-gam elimination. While the club doesn’t have many better options considering rest and results in 2012, it is still a questionable decision.

Due to the Rangers success at home and the incredible talent that they have offensively, my prediction is that the Rangers win this game 7-2, pounding Saunders, while Darvish shows that he was worth the investment.

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