Josh Hamilton was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in what could be his last game in a Rangers uniform.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Buck Showalter managed the first American League wild-card team, the 1995 Yankees, losing an excruciating division series. On Friday he was here for the league’s first one-game wild-card playoff as manager of the Baltimore Orioles. There was no series this time, just one chance to continue a miracle season.
“Our approach is it’s sudden life, not sudden death, and there’s something good, real good, that can happen,” Showalter said before batting practice at Rangers Ballpark. “If you had told us at the end of the season last year that we’d have a chance to put a roster together for one game, we’d have signed up for that in blood. I’m sure Texas feels the same way.”
Maybe, but probably not. The Rangers led the West division this season from the fourth game through the 161st, but tumbled into the wild-card game the last day of the regular season. Now they are finished, victims of a long-dormant potion called Oriole Magic.
Absent from the playoffs the last 15 seasons, the Orioles returned in style, edging the Rangers, 5-1, behind Joe Saunders and three relievers. They will host the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the division series on Sunday.
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Saunders quickly gave up the Orioles’ 1-0 lead in the first — which came via a Michael Young error and a J.J. Hardy single off Texas starter Yu Darvish — but that was the only run he allowed in 5-2/3 innings. Saunders benefited from three double-plays and some bad swings by Josh Hamilton, the free-agent-to-be who might have played his last game in a Texas uniform.
The O’s had consecutive singles to start the sixth before Adam Jones’ sacrifice fly made it 2-1.
Darvish started the seventh with a strikeout before Ryan Flaherty’s single and a sacrifice bunt by Manny Machado. Derek Holland took over and gave up an RBI single by McLouth for a 3-1 lead.
Nate McLouth added a sacrifice fly in the ninth, when the Orioles scored twice against Rangers closer Joe Nathan.
|Baltimore||100 001 102||—||5||8||2|
|Texas||100 000 000||—||1||9||2|
E — Mar.Reynolds (1), O’Day (1), Mi.Young (1), D.Holland (1). LOB — Baltimore 6, Texas 8. 2B — Andino (1). RBI — McLouth 2 (2), Hardy (1), Ad.Jones (1), Machado (1). SB — McLouth (1), Mar.Reynolds (1). S — Machado. SF — McLouth, Ad.Jones. Runners left in scoring position — Baltimore 2 (Machado, Hardy); Texas 4 (Soto, Hamilton, Dav.Murphy 2). RISP — Baltimore 3 for 5; Texas 1 for 7. Runners moved up — Mi.Young. GIDP — Kinsler, Andrus, Hamilton. DP — Baltimore 3.
|J.Saunders W, 1-0||5-2/3||6||1||1||1||4||1.59|
|O’Day H, 1||2||1||0||0||0||1||0.00|
|Matusz H, 1||1/3||0||0||0||0||1||0.00|
|Darvish L, 0-1||6-2/3||5||3||2||0||7||2.70|
Pitches — J.Saunders 77, O’Day 24, Matusz 3, Ji.Johnson 17, Darvish 91, D.Holland 8, Uehara 18, Nathan 35. Inherited runners-scored — Matusz 1-0, D.Holland 1-1. HBP — by Darvish (Mar.Reynolds). WP — D.Holland. Umpires — Home, Gary Darling; First, Jerry Layne; Second, Ted Barrett; Third, Bill Miller; Right, Chris Guccione; Left, Greg Gibson. T — 3:19. A — 46,931.