OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 17: Dan Straily #67 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Cleveland Indians at O.co Coliseum on August 17, 2013 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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 A's come in following a series with the Minnesota Twins, including Wednesday's game that saw them put up 18 runs in a blowout. The Rangers can hope they used all of their offense for a few days in that one game.
Past 2013 Meetings: The Rangers are 9-7 this season against Oakland, but most recently lost a series in Oakland last week with the same pitching matchups that this series will see. Martin Perez got the Rangers' only win of the series.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Derek Holland (9-8, 3.17 ERA) vs. Dan Straily (9-7, 4.15); Saturday — Yu Darvish (12-8, 2.84) vs. Bartolo Colon (15-6, 2.85); Sunday — Martin Perez (9-4, 3.60) vs. Jarrod Parker (11-6, 3.55).
What's Hot: There isn't much here to talk about from a Rangers perspective. There are a few hot bats belonging to Elvis Andrus (.385 in his last six games), A.J. Pierzynski (.381) and Alex Rios (.381) and they've combined for 14 RBIs, led by Andrus' 7 in those six games. Darvish was great on Monday night against the Pirates but got zero run support and had to leave after just 81 pitches and seven innings due to leg cramps.
For a team that doesn't have a single player hitting .300 on the season, the A's are absolutely tearing the cover off the ball at the moment with seven regulars hitting better than .300 over the last week and four of those eclipsing .400. Josh Donaldson, who's been a thorn in the Rangers' side all year is hitting .450 over that stretch, and even Yoenis Cespedes, who has taken a long time get going is finally hot, hitting .435 with seven RBIs in his last six games. Straily and Colon combined to give up one run in 13 innings in their previous respective starts.
What's Not: Where do we begin? The Rangers' strength all season, their pitching staff, has even started to struggle now along with their on-again, off-again offense. Derek Holland has hit the skids, as of late, and gave up eight runs in his last outing, only four of which were earned. Adrian Beltre has picked up his game over the last couple of days, but he's still hitting .227 over the last six games and continues to struggle with runners in scoring position, including a chance at a game-winner on Tuesday.
The usually stout A's bullpen has been struggling for a few weeks now, as setup man Ryan Cook and all-star closer Grant Balfour are both getting knocked around with ERAs of 4.50 and 9.00, respectively, over the last week. Rangers killer Coco Crisp is hitting just .250 over the last month, the second-worst of any A's regular, but that number would be considered pretty helpful for the Rangers' offense right now.
Familiar Faces: You know the drill by now, there's journeyman infielder (only between these two teams) Adam Rosales, who most likely won't play in this series for the Rangers. Also, there's Ron Washington, who spent more than a decade as a third-base coach in Oakland before getting the Texas managerial job. Alexi Ogando, who has pitched great in relief since coming off his third DL stint this season, started his career in the A's organization as an outfielder.