Joe Saunders escapes jam to preserve 1-1 tie vs. Rangers through four innings

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Most didn’t give Joe Saunders much of a chance against the Rangers in this game, especially after seeing how Ron Washington stacked his lineup with right-handed batters, but he has allowed one run through four innings to preserve a 1-1 tie.

It hasn’t been easy, though. Saunders walked Ian Kinsler to begin the game. Elvis Andrus then followed with a single to move Kinsler to third. It looked like he was on the ropes three batters into the game, but Saunders got Josh Hamilton to ground into a double-play to kill the rally. A run scored on the play, but the Orioles gladly took it.

The Rangers just threatened again in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Nelson Cruz and Michael Young had consecutive singles with one out. However, Saunders was able to get Mike Napoli to strike out swinging before getting Geovany Soto to ground into a fielder’s choice.

Saunders has allowed one run on five hits and a walk while striking out five. He has flipped the order over two times with minimal damage. Can’t ask for much more than that given the circumstances.

UPDATE: Make that five innings of one-run ball. You know, just like everybody expected.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.