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Rangers hit reset button

ARLINGTON, Texas — After a grinding stretch when the Rangers lost nine of their last 13 games, and the AL West crown in the process, manager Ron Washington gave his players the day off Thursday. They get a chance to start fresh today.

One chance, or the season will be over for the two-time defending AL champions long before another World Series.

"I don't feel any different," Washington said. "Other than the fact we have an opportunity to get back in the playoffs if we win a ball game."

Still, the team that twice came within a strike of winning last year's World Series never expected to be in this kind of postseason situation. Instead of winning another division title, after being in first place for a majors-high 178 days this season, Texas hosts a winner-take-all AL wild-card game against Baltimore and former manager Buck Showalter.

Just a week ago, Texas had a four-game division lead with six to play, then it lost five of those last six games.

"There was a level of disappointment at first. A chance to win the division, and we couldn't put it away," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Then you take a step back and realize there are 20 teams that would kill to be where we are right now and would trade places with us in a heartbeat."

Yu Darvish makes his MLB postseason debut for the Rangers against the only AL team the right-hander from Japan didn't face this season.

Meanwhile, left-hander Joe Saunders, a late-season acquisition by the Orioles, has never won at Rangers Ballpark. He is 3-7 with a 6.48 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas, including 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in six previous starts at Rangers Ballpark.

"You can make numbers any way you want to," Showalter said. "If you're looking for pitchers with good numbers against the Texas Rangers, they're hard to find."

Saunders seems ready for the challenge. "It'd be really nice to get a win for the club and get a playoff game back home," he said. "That's what this organization is asking me to do."

Texas won five of the seven games this season. That includes the May 8 game in Baltimore when Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four homers in a game.

Postseason schedule

TV: All games TBS

AL Wild card

Baltimore at Texas, 8:37 today

AL Division Series

A's vs. Tigers

Saturday: at Detroit, 6:07

Sunday: at Detroit, TBA

Tuesday: at Oakland, TBA

Wednesday: at Oakland, TBA*

Thursday: at Oakland, TBA*

Yankees vs. WC winner

Sunday: at WC winner, TBA

Monday: at WC winner, TBA

Wednesday: at New York, TBA

Thursday: at New York, TBA*

Oct. 12: at New York, TBA*

NL Wild card

St. Louis at Atlanta, 5:07 today

NL Division Series

Reds vs. Giants

Saturday: at San Francisco, 9:37

Sunday: at San Francisco, TBA

Tuesday: at Cincinnati, TBA

Wednesday: at Cincinnati, TBA*

Thursday: at Cincinnati, TBA*

Nationals vs. WC winner

Sunday: at WC winner, TBA

Monday: at WC winner, TBA

Wednesday: at Washington, TBA

Thursday: at Washington, TBA*

Oct. 12: at Washington, TBA*

* If necessary

2012 Team 2012 Vs. Opp.

Team Pitcher Time W-L ERA Rec. W-L IP ERA

Baltimore Saunders (L) 8:35 9-13 4.07 11-17 - - -

Texas Darvish (R) tonight16-9 3.90 19-10 - - -

TEAM REC-Team's record in games started by today's pitcher. VS OPP-Pitcher's record versus this opponent, 2011 statistics.



Orioles (93-69) at Rangers (93-69)

Season series: Rangers won 5-2

Of note: The winner advances to face the AL East champion Yankees in the best-of-five division series beginning Sunday. … Rangers OF Josh Hamilton has 11 career homers in 38 games against the Orioles. … Texas 3B Adrian Beltre has been dealing with a strained left shoulder and stomach pain of late. … Texas scored at least 10 runs three times against the Orioles this season. … The Orioles went 29-9 in one-run games and have won 16 straight in extra innings. … Baltimore is 23-8 when CF Adam Jones homers. … Orioles closer Jim Johnson hasn't blown a save opportunity since July 27 and has 20 saves and an ERA under 1.00 since July 30.

Rangers hit reset button 10/04/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 11:20pm]

    

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