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.

Video: Jackie Bradley Jr. climbs wall to rob Luis Urías of homer

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
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Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. scaled the center field fence to rob Padres shortstop Luis Urías of a solo home run in the fourth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game. Urías was trying to take advantage of a 0-1 slider from Ryan Brasier. Had Bradley not made the grab, the Padres’ lead would have been extended to 4-1.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they weren’t able to take advantage of Bradley’s effort, dropping Sunday’s contest 3-1. They still won the series against the Padres, however. The Sox will continue their road trip for two games against the Rockies followed by three versus the Angels.