Scratches on the metal bearing surface of metal-on-polyethylene total joint replacements have been found to appreciably accelerate abrasive/adhesive wear of polyethylene, and constitute a source of the considerable variability of wear rate seen within clinical cohorts. Scratch orientation with respect to the local direction of relative surface sliding is presumably a factor affecting instantaneous debris liberation during articulation. A three-dimensional local finite element model was developed, of orientation-specific polyethylene articulation with a scratched metal counterface, to explore continuum-level stress/strain parameters potentially correlating with the orientation dependence of scratch wear in a corresponding physical experiment. Computed maximum stress values exceeded the yield strength of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) for all scratch orientations but did not vary appreciably among scratch orientations. Two continuum-level parameters judged most consistent overall with the direction dependence of experimental wear were (1) cumulative compressive total normal strain in the direction of loading, and (2) maximum instantaneous compressive total normal strain transverse to the sliding direction. Such stress/strain metrics could be useful in global computational models of wear acceleration, as surrogates to incorporate anisotropy of local metal surface roughening.