Joe Saunders to start vs. Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Baltimore Orioles veteran Joe Saunders will start Friday's American League wild-card game against the Texas Rangers, manager Buck Showalter announced Thursday.

Showalter said Saunders' experience, along with the fact the Orioles are unsure if Steve Johnson's knee is going to be 100 percent, impacted the decision to start Saunders against the two-time defending AL champions.

"(Saunders) is rested and ready to go," Showalter said. "He's pitched some in the playoffs. We've said that our No. 1 starter is the guy pitching that day. Our whole rotation has been a sum of the parts. Joe has pitched well for us since he's been here. He's got a tough task ahead of him."

Saunders does not have good numbers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in his career. He's 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in six starts. The left-hander hasn't pitched in Texas since 2010, when he had one of his better starts in the park, allowing one run on seven hits, but still got the loss.

"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. We have to pitch well and do things out of the bullpen and swing the bat and catch the ball. It's an opportunity for Joe. He's pitched some good games."

Saunders said he's looking forward to the challenge of facing the Rangers and doing it in Arlington. He added that he doesn't know what his numbers are in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"It's a huge opportunity," Saunders said. "It's been a blessing since I got traded over here. I came over to a great organization and a great team they have in place. I'm going to embrace it."

Saunders was traded to Baltimore for Matt Lindstrom near the end of August and has made seven starts for the Orioles, going 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 44⅔ innings.