"Bazooka" Joe Saunders’ Orioles career was over in nine starts, but the Springfield, VA native, who grew up watching the Birds, left his mark, bringing the Orioles their first postseason victory since 1997 and defying some lopsided statistics in the process.
Saunders entered the Wild Card game with a 0-1 record in four career playoff games and a 6.00 ERA. Those daunting numbers were eclipsed by a 3-7 record and a 6.48 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas, and a devastating 0-6, 9.38 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Facing eventual AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90), Saunders rose to the occasion, holding Texas to one run over 5 and 2/3 innings as the Orioles prevailed by a score of 5-1 to advance to the American League Division Series.
Saunders does not have any cards as an Oriole, but the 2013 Topps #317 team card is an appropriate memento, even if Saunders is nowhere to be found on the front. For my collection (I’ll let bought cards slide if the player has none as an Oriole), I picked up his 2002 Just Minors autograph, which contains about as close to a flattering picture of him as you’ll ever see. Mine is #417 of 1000. Saunders had just been drafted by the Angels out of Virginia Tech, and this is probably his best card showing him as a Hokie.
Joe signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners on February 12. His Orioles career saw him go 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 7 starts, and 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two postseason games, both of which were Oriole wins.
2012 ORIOLES PROGRESS: 4 OF 53
2012 PLAYOFF ROSTER: 4 OF 24