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Saunders to start Game 4 of ALDS for O's

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 12:17 am •  Published: October 11, 2012
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Most teams send their next day's starting pitcher to the interview room before a postseason game. The Baltimore Orioles sent two.

With Baltimore manager Buck Showalter publicly uncertain about his Game 4 starter against the New York Yankees, Joe Saunders sat on the podium Wednesday with Chris Tillman sitting to his left.

"We were kind of hoping you would tell us because we don't know yet," Saunders told reporters. "Whoever it is, me or Chris, we're going to go out there and do our job."

Saunders will get the start in Game 4, trying to keep the Orioles season alive. The Yankees took a 2-1 series lead on Raul Ibanez's homer in the 12th inning on Wednesday night that gave New York a 3-2 victory.

Saunders, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts after he was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 26. Tillman, a 23-year-old righty, was 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts.

Tillman hasn't pitched since the regular-season finale on Oct. 3, and Saunders hasn't appeared in a game since Sept. 30.

"We don't truly have maybe a one, two, three, four, five kind of rotation," Saunders said. "We have maybe a couple twos, maybe a couple threes, maybe a four, whatever. Like Buck says, whoever is pitching that day is the ace. Every day is the biggest game of the year, and then we move on to the next day and then that day is the biggest game of the year."

Saunders won his one start against the Yankees, allowing two runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings to defeat CC Sabathia 5-4 on Sept. 8 at Camden Yards. Tillman was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against New York.

Baltimore was 6-3 at Yankee Stadium during the regular season after going 2-7 in the Bronx in each of the previous three years.

"This year has been a whole different feel in the clubhouse and on the field," Tillman said. "We've just been playing good baseball. I think any given night it's a different guy that's a star that helps the team. It's never the same guys over and over again. Different guys pull through for us. It's exciting to watch."

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CAPTAIN OUCH: Derek Jeter limped off the field after striking out in the eighth inning and didn't return to the Yankees' 3-2, 12 inning victory in Game 3 over the Orioles.

New York's captain fouled a ball off his foot in the third inning, just before hitting an RBI triple over the head of Baltimore's bubble-blowing center fielder Adam Jones. Jeter labored as he jogged back to the dugout but stayed in the game.

"It hurt man," Jeter said. "You try having someone throw a ball at your foot as hard as they can. It's just part of the game, but I wish it didn't happen."

Still, Jeter insisted he was going to play Thursday.

Manager Joe Girardi will wait until the shortstop comes in before batting practice to decide.

"It's day to day, and we'll see how he feels," Girardi said. "Hopefully we can get him back in there."

Slowed by a bruised ankle in September that forced him to serve as the designated hitter for six of nine games, Jeter said this injury was to a different part of the foot.

In the sixth, he slowly jogged to first on a single. After striking out in the eighth he was lifted. When fans saw Jayson Nix heading to shortstop they let out a gasp.

"I talked my way into the last at-bat and that didn't work out so well," he said.

Don't count Jeter out. Entering Wednesday's game Jeter had played every inning in 151 of his 154 postseason games. The only times he was lifted early came in blowout games the Yankees lost by at least 11 runs.

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