(Reuters) - The Baltimore Orioles’ improbable ride continued on Friday when they hammered the two-time defending American League (AL) champion Texas Rangers 5-1 in the first ever one-game AL wildcard showdown.
Left-hander Joe Saunders, who was 0-6 with a 9.38 earned run average in six previous starts at Rangers Ballpark, held Texas to one run on six hits and a walk through 5 2/3 innings with four strikeouts.
For Texas, sluggers Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre were a combined 0-for-8 in the middle of the order and Japanese starter Yu Darvish went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out seven.
It was a crushing end to their 2012 campaign for the Rangers who lost the AL West crown after dropping nine of their last 13 regular-season games.
Back in the playoffs for the first time since 1997, Baltimore now head home to host the AL East champion New York Yankees in the opening game of the best-of-five divisional series on Sunday.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom