Texas leads the ALDS series 1-0 following a hard-fought 3-2 win in Baltimore. Saturday's game could have gone either way as Kyle Bradish, with the exception of a couple of batters in the fourth inning, pitched a stellar game. The Birds need a win before they go on the road so it would not be surprising if Brandon Hyde pulled some tricks out of his sleeve to make sure this young squad gets a needed victory.
Fireballer Grayson Rodriguez starts on the mound for Baltimore while Texas is utilizng southpaw Jordan Montgomery. What appears to be a mismatch, Rodriguez's 4.35 ERA and 1.35 WHIP vs Montgomery's 3.2 ERA and 1.2 WHIP, is actually not an accurate representation of where the two starters are right now. The Oriole's rookie has been much better in his second stint with the club and will likely provide a tough challenge for Rangers' bats to break through.
Rodriguez has faced Texas twice this season. Both games resulted in the Orioles' losses, but only one of them was due to the right-hander's pitching performance. In the April fixture, the 23-year-old went five innings and only allowed two runs. It should have been good enough to give the squad a chance at capturing a win but Austin Voth would end up getting hit for three earned runs after only recording four outs.
The second outing in which Rodriguez faced the Rangers ultimately saw him sent down to the Minor Leagues for nearly two months. Three and one-third innings of eight earned runs capped a nightmarish May. Since being recalled by Hyde to return to the starting rotation, though, Rodriguez has worked his 7.35 ERA down three full points. He is not the same pitcher Texas faced in late May.
Montgomery has not faced the Birds this campaign. He has, however, already produced a stellar postseason show that gave the Rangers a series lead over Tampa Bay. Only five days ago the veteran pitcher threw seven innings of shutout baseball. Six hits and no walks issued saw a fiery Rays lineup silenced by the southpaw's skills.
What stands out the most among the Rangers' pitcher's stats is the consistency. After posting a 6.04 ERA for May and a superb 1.71 ERA for June, the 30-year-old settled into a rhythm through the months of July, August and September. 3.1, 2.3 and 3.22 ERAs earned Montgomery the all-important starting role for game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series.
All this work with Texas has also been done in a short time frame too. Montgomery joined the Rangers from Saint Louis at the end of July. Save for two poor outings, his form has not changed following the move. If anything, he has enjoyed much better fielding in Arlington than with the Cardinals. Now he gets to pit his 10-11 record up against the Birds' feared batting lineup, and Rodriguez's 7-4 stellar rookie season.
Game time: 4:07 p.m. EDT
Location: Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
Watch on TV: FS1
Listen on radio: 98 Rock FM/HD2 97.9, WBAL NewsRadio AM/FM