Orioles pick Joe Saunders as Wild Card playoff game starter

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UPDATE: Sure enough, the Orioles just announced that they’re going with Saunders over Johnson against the Rangers. Showalter indicated that Johnson’s knee injury played a factor in the decision.

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Yu Darvish will start the Wild Card playoff game for the Rangers, but the Orioles remain undecided on who they’ll have on the mound. Or at least manager Buck Showalter hasn’t made his choice public yet.

It will either be left-hander Joe Saunders, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks on August 26, or right-hander Steve Johnson, a 25-year-old rookie who made just four regular season starts.

Based on experience and track record Saunders would be the obvious pick and he’s pitched pretty well since joining the Orioles with a 3.63 ERA and 23/8 K/BB ratio in 45 innings. On the other hand the Rangers are a very right-handed heavy lineup aside from Josh Hamilton and led the league in OPS versus left-handed pitching. Not surprisingly Saunders has pretty brutal career numbers versus Texas.

Johnson was excellent in 38 innings split between the rotation and bullpen, posting a 2.11 ERA and 46/18 K/BB ratio, but he’s been dealing with some knee problems and … well, trusting an unheralded rookie with four career starts in the team’s first playoff game in 15 years would certainly be a gutsy call by Showalter.

Trea Turner hits for the cycle

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Nationals shortstop Trea Turner hit for the cycle on Tuesday night against the Rockies, becoming the first National to hit for the cycle since, well, himself back on April 25, 2017… against the Rockies.

Turner led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run to center field off of Peter Lambert. He singled in the second, tripled to lead off the fourth, and hit an RBI double as part of an eight-run seventh inning to complete the cycle.

Turner is the fourth player to hit for the cycle this season. The others:

After completing the cycle, Turner is hitting .286/.343/.494 with eight home runs, 25 RBI, 41 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 277 plate appearances this season.