A capsule look at Orioles-Rangers wild-card game

Associated Press Published: October 4, 2012
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Rangers: Instead of winning their third consecutive AL West title, which for so much of the season seemed a foregone conclusion for the two-time defending AL champs, the Rangers (93-69) instead lost nine of their last 13 games. That was their worst such stretch all season. ... Texas was 17-6 in April and went on to spend 178 days overall in first place. That was the most in the majors this season, and the most for any team in major league history that failed to win a division title. ... Texas won 14 of its last 16 regular-season games last season. ... Needing to win only once in the final series of the season to win the division, Texas was instead swept by Oakland, which overcame a 13-game deficit to take the title on the final day. The only other time Texas was swept in a series of at least three games was July 3-5 at the Chicago White Sox. ... Hamilton and Beltre have the most homers by any pair of teammates in the majors. It's the most for a Rangers duo since 2005 with Mark Teixeira (43) and Alfonso Soriano (36). ... After his four-homer game in Baltimore, Hamilton was on a Triple Crown pace, leading the AL in hitting (.406) with 14 homers and 36 RBIs. In 48 games between June 1 and Aug. 1, he hit a paltry .197 with eight homers and 28 RBIs. ... Hamilton is eligible for free agency after the season, and the Rangers might not be willing to pay the lofty price the former AL MVP and batting champion could demand. ... For the first time under Washington, who is in his sixth season, the Rangers didn't increase their win total from the previous year. They won a franchise-record 96 games last year. ... Texas had seven players who appeared in at least 147 games. Five of them (Beltre, Andrus, Young, Cruz and Kinsler) played 155 games, a club record. ... The Rangers had a franchise-low 85 errors in the regular season, two less than their 1996 total. The 99 errorless games was another franchise record. ... Texas made three errors in the last game, including Hamilton's dropped fly ball that put the A's ahead to stay . ... Kinsler hit .293 at home and .220 on the road. ... Colby Lewis (forearm) and Neftali Felix (elbow), who were both in Texas' opening-day rotation, were lost to season-ending injuries. Oswalt, a three-time All-Star and a free agent Texas considered last winter, joined the team at the end of June. A month later, he was working out of the bullpen and spot starting after the Rangers obtained Ryan Dempster in a trade from the Chicago Cubs.

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Watch For:

— Going Deep. These Orioles are patterned after those Earl Weaver teams of long ago. Rarely do they seek to manufacture runs with bunts and steals; rather, they rely on the three-run homer. The formula has worked. Baltimore hit 127 homers at Camden Yards, its most at home in one season.

— Banged-Up Beltre. A top-five MVP candidate with his performance at the plate and in the field (career-low eight errors), Beltre was the DH during the final series in Oakland because of a strained left shoulder. He has also been dealing with stomach pain caused by what doctors believe is scar tissue from appendix surgery more than a decade ago, and could require additional surgery after the season.

— Closing Time: If the Orioles take a lead into the ninth, Johnson is a pretty good bet to seal the win. He hasn't blown a save opportunity since July 27 and has 20 saves and an ERA under 1.00 since July 30. The right-hander didn't allow an earned run until May 10 and hasn't given up a HR since June 5. The only players on the Rangers with homers against Johnson are Murphy and Kinsler. Johnson's 2.49 ERA would be a whole lot better if not for two appearances in which he yielded a total of 11 runs. He allowed 10 runs in his other 69 games.