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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 4th (All times Eastern)
Texas Rangers (2-1) at Tampa Bay Rays (2-1), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Texas - Joe Saunders (0-0, 0.00) Tampa Bay - Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 0.00)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Journeyman lefty Joe Saunders makes his first start for his fifth team on Friday night when the Texas Rangers visit Tropicana Field to open a three-game weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Saunders made 32 starts for the Seattle Mariners last season and was 11-16 with a 5.26 earned run average.
He was 0-2 with an 11.37 ERA in spring training and has never beaten the Rays, losing three decisions while posting an 8.40 ERA.
Saunders' best seasons came with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, for whom he won 17 and 16 games in 2008 and 2009, respectively. He won 11 games with Arizona in 2011 and reached double-digits for the fourth time with the Mariners.
The Rays will go with young right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who's made just nine big- league appearances and only six as a starter.
The former Kansas City Royals prospect, who was acquired in a trade that sent James Shields to the Royals, beat out Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos in a spring training competition for the No. 5 starter's slot.
He was 1-2 in six spring outings with a 4.24 ERA and is winless in six career starts.
Odorizzi has never faced the Rangers.
On Thursday, Chris Archer tossed six solid innings, Evan Longoria hit a three- run homer and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, to split a four-game series.
Archer (1-0), who signed a six-year contract on Wednesday, gave up two runs on four hits while striking out seven on Thursday. In 2013, Archer went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA over 23 starts.
Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings and Ryan Hanigan each knocked in a run for Tampa Bay, which had 11 hits.
Longoria's homer was the 163rd of his career, tying Carlos Pena for the franchise record.
Meanwhile in Texas on Wednesday, Shin-Soo Choo drew a walk to force in the game-winning run as the Rangers beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3, to claim the rubber match of a three-game set from Globe Life Park.
Texas trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth inning but rallied off Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon (0-1).
Adrian Beltre singled to lead things off and Mitch Moreland doubled to put two runners on for pinch-hitter Jim Adduci, who reached on an infield single and plated Beltre. Leonys Martin then slapped a single past Chase Utley at second base to tie the score, and Papelbon issued consecutive walks to Donnie Murphy and Choo to force in the decisive run.
It was the second straight game that Texas won on its final at-bat. Beltre delivered the final blow with a single to right-center in the Rangers' 3-2 win on Tuesday.
04/04 10:28:01 ET
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