ARLINGTON, Texas - Tonight’s game between the Orioles and Rangers has a “Throwback Tuesday” feel to it.
The Orioles are facing former teammate Joe Saunders, making only his third start for the Rangers this season after spending time on the disabled list with a bruised foot.
Manager Buck Showalter gave Saunders the start in Texas in the 2012 American League wild card game despite the left-hander’s horrific numbers. Saunders is now 4-10 with a 6.39 ERA in 16 career starts against the Rangers and 1-7 with an 8.58 ERA in eight starts at Globe Life Park.
You know what happened. He allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings and the Orioles advanced to the Division Series.
Saunders is a Ranger now, and he’s allowed four earned runs (five total) and 11 hits in 8 2/3 innings this season, with five walks and 10 strikeouts. He’s 7-0 with a 4.09 ERA in nine career starts against the Orioles.
Nelson Cruz expects to play tonight, though we won’t know for certain until he’s done with batting practice. He’s got to be eager to face his former team. And he’s 11-for-33 (.333) with a double and two home runs lifetime against Saunders.
Delmon Young is 3-for-10 (.300) with a double and home run against Saunders, but he may be on the bench again if Cruz starts and Showalter wants to keep Steve Pearce’s bat in the lineup.
Nick Markakis, bothered by neck stiffness in Houston, is 7-for-28 (.250) against Saunders. Adam Jones is 4-for-19 (.211), Chris Davis is 3-for-18 (.167) with a home run and J.J. Hardy is 2-for-8 (.250) with a home run.
Matt Wieters is 3-for-5 with two home runs, but he’s still on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. He’s scheduled to play catch again today for the third time.
Ubaldo Jimenez (2-6, 4.65 ERA) has two losses and two no-decisions in his last four starts, his most recent victory coming on May 8. But he held the Astros to one run and struck out eight over six innings in his last outing.
Jimenez has completed six innings in five of his 11 starts this season. He’s 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in six road starts.
In six career starts against the Rangers, Jimenez is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA over 35 2/3 innings. He’s 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings in three career starts in Arlington.