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October 04, 2012

Thursday's Rangers notes: Orioles tab Joe Saunders to start wild-card game

ARLINGTON -- Joe Saunders knows his numbers aren't too impressive at Rangers Ballpark. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter saw the same thing.

Still, that didn't stop the Orioles from naming the veteran left-hander as the starter for Friday's wild-card game against the Texas Rangers.

Saunders is 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in six starts in Arlington, and has gone 3-7 with a 6.48 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rangers.

Asked if he knew the numbers, Saunders said: "I can imagine. I don't care. Tomorrow is a new day."

The Orioles other option would have been rookie right-hander Steve Johnson, but Showalter said the team didn't know if he would be 100 percent physically. Also, Showalter liked the fact that Saunders is a veteran and has started four postseason games.

"He's rested and ready to go," Showalter said. "He's pitched some in the playoffs. We've said that our No. 1 starter is the guy pitching that day. Our whole rotation has been a sum of the parts. Joe has pitched well for us since he's been here. He's got a tough task ahead of him.

"You can make numbers any way you want to. If you're looking for pitchers with good numbers against the Texas Rangers, they're hard to find."

Here are a few other notes:

* The Rangers gave their players the complete day off Thursday. None of them were required to report to Rangers Ballpark. Said manager Ron Washington: "We've been grinding. I just felt like they needed a break away from the ballpark. They needed some down time. I gave them today."

* Josh Hamilton had a glaring error Wednesday, dropping a routine fly ball in shallow center field. Ron Washington spoke with Hamilton after the play in the dugout, and reiterated that he had no issues with his star slugger. "There was no issue with Josh and I," Washington said. "I don’t care what you saw on the camera. I’m the manager. I’m allowed to ask questions. It’s just that you’ll get more views about things right now. I have no issue with Hamilton and that’s the end of that.”

* Rosters for the wild-card round are due at 10 a.m. Friday. Ron Washington and Buck Showalter didn't reveal how their rosters would shape up, but the benches could be deeper than they would be in a traditional playoff format. After all, the rosters are re-set prior to the division series, which means the teams don't need to carry four starting pitchers.

-- Drew Davison

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