On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2013 season.
The Opponent: The Angels had a rough loss on Sunday to Toronto, and guess how it happened? Yup, that trusty Angels' bullpen gave up two runs apiece in the eighth and ninth innings as the Blue Jays rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the eighth to win 6-5. If only the Rangers could play every game against the Angels' bullpen. The Rangers hve the luxury of missing both ace Jered Weaver and former Rangers C.J. Wilson in the pitching rotation.
Past 2013 Meetings: The Rangers are 7-2 against the Halos this season, including last week's three-game sweep which featured three walk-off home runs for the Rangers.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Martin Perez (3-3, 3.93 ERA) vs. Jerome Williams (5-7, 4.60); Tuesday — Yu Darvish (10-5, 2.66) vs. Garrett Richards (3-4, 4.18); Wednesday — Alexi Ogando (4-3, 3.26) vs. Tommy Hanson (4-2, 5.29).
What's Hot: A.J. Pierzynski is back to hitting the ball, and hitting it in clutch situations. All but two of the veteran catcher's home runs this year have given the Rangers the lead or tied the game, and over the past week, Pierzynski leads the Rangers with seven RBIs. Elvis Andrus has been locked in since the all-star break but did see his 16-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday in the Rangers' win. And how about Darvish? Wow. In his last three starts, the Rangers' ace is sporting a 0.47 ERA with 29 strikeouts and six walks while allowing just 10 hits in 19 1/3 innings.
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar is hitting .370 over the last week, and how about that Mike Trout? The young phenom has a .606 on-base percentage with 12 walks over the last seven games. He reached base in 10 straight at-bats against the Rangers in the first two games of their three-game set last week. Williams and Richards both pitched well against the Rangers last week before the Angels' awful bullpen choked the games away.
What's Not: In a somewhat alarming trend as of late, two Rangers relievers are struggling in a big way as Robbie Ross and Joakim Soria have allowed seven runs on 11 hits in a combined five innings of work. Jurickson Profar had a big home run in Friday's win over Oakland but on Saturday looked like a deer in headlights when he was blown back by A's closer Grant Balfour in the ninth inning. He's hitting just .214 over the last week and could be pressed into more regular playing time if Nelson Cruz is suspended for the remainder of the regular season due to his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
Oh, that Angels' bullpen. Since trading Scott Downs prior to the trade deadline, the Angels bullpen has been a complete mess. They have four relievers with double-digit ERAs over the past week, including closer Ernesto Frieri (11.57), who blew two saves against the Rangers last week. If the Rangers can get the Angels' starters out of the game fairly early, they'll be in good shape once again.
Familiar Faces: While the Orioles are Rangers East, the Angels could stake claim to being Rangers West with C.J. Wilson and Hamilton, two players who had worn out their welcome with the Rangers and were signed to big-money deals by the Angels. Wilson's has paid off fairly nicely. Hamilton's? Not so much.