The Orioles have jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in their do-or-die Wild Card matchup against the Rangers in Arlington.
Nate McLouth led off the game by smacking a hard-hit ball to Michael Young at first base, who was unable to get a handle on it. McLouth then stole second base before he was brought home on an RBI single by J.J. Hardy. Yu Darvish was able to get Adam Jones to pop out to first base and Matt Wieters to strike out swinging to avoid any further damage.
Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton are due to bat against Joe Saunders in the bottom of the first. Hamilton is the only lefty bat in the Rangers’ lineup this evening.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.