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Pitcher to watch: RHP Jim Johnson

The skinny: Baltimore has outperformed all expectations to reach the postseason for the first time in 15 years, making it this far despite scoring only seven more runs than it allowed this season. Jones is the centerpiece of a modest offense that has excelled in the clutch, leading the Orioles to a 16-2 record in extra-inning games. Johnson has been stellar holding up the back end of a patchwork pitching staff that has had 12 different pitchers start games. Jason Hammel might be the key guy if he’s healthy after battling knee problems for three months.


Credentials: 93-69, Wild Card

Last postseason appearance: 2011, lost to Cardinals 4-3 in World Series

Best postseason finish: AL champions (2010, 2011)

Manager: Ron Washington (18-15 postseason record)

Player to watch: CF Josh Hamilton

Pitcher to watch: LHP Matt Harrison

The skinny: The two-time defending AL champions don’t have momentum on their side after limping into the playoffs with a September collapse that cost them the West title. Hamilton has missed a good chunk of time recently with blurred vision, so his readiness for October remains to be seen. Deep as the Rangers’ lineup is, they need Hamilton producing to make a run. Yu Darvish has made an impact in his first major-league season, striking out 221, but Harrison has been even better with a 3.29 ERA and four complete games.