Rangers in unexpected spot vs O's in AL wild card

Associated Press Modified: October 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm •  Published: October 4, 2012
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While Darvish (16-9) is a rookie in the majors, the 26-year-old starter had plenty of postseason experience before the Rangers committed more than $107 million last winter to acquire Japan's top pitcher. He was 8-2 with a 1.38 ERA and five complete games in 11 postseason starts for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2006-11.

"He's an expensive one," Showalter said. "He's impressive. They gotten a return on everything they've invested. He's pretty special."

The Orioles acquired Saunders (9-13 overall, including 3-3 in seven starts for Baltimore) on Aug. 26 from Arizona. The lefty has previous playoff experience for the Los Angeles Angels.

But Saunders is 3-7 with a 6.48 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas, including 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in six previous starts at Rangers Ballpark.

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

It has been more than two years since Saunders pitched in Texas, and he allowed only one run in seven innings then. Now the Virginia native who grew up an Orioles fan is starting their biggest game of the season.

"It's a huge opportunity. It's been a blessing since I got traded over here, it's been an amazing experience," he said. "It'd be really nice to get a win for the club and get a playoff game back home. That's what this organization is asking me to do."

Texas won five of the seven games in the regular season and scored at least 10 runs three times. That includes the May 8 game in Baltimore when Hamilton, the free-agent-to-be slugger, became the 16th player in major league history with four homers in a game.

Hamilton (43) and Adrian Beltre (36), the standout defensive third baseman limited to being the designated hitter against Oakland because of a strained left shoulder, have the most homers by a pair of big league teammates this season.

The Orioles have a pair of 30-homer hitters in Adam Jones (32) and Chris Davis (33), who is among seven former Rangers playing for Baltimore.

Davis was traded to the O's with right-hander Tommy Hunter in July 2011 for Koji Uehara, the righty reliever who retired 25 consecutive batters for Texas before giving up a single in his last outing.

"The big thing for us was coming in August and playing these guys and kind of dealing with the emotions of being back, being on the other side of things," Davis said. "Right now we're definitely excited to be in the postseason, and we really don't care who our opponent is. ... We're just glad to be in this situation."

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