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 2014 season.
The Opponent: The A's have won just half of their last 10 games and have managed to keep the AL West pecking order relatively unchanged recently. But they're still in first place in the West with the best record in the American League — just a half-game behind their Bay Area bunkmates in San Francisco.
Past 2014 Meetings: The teams have split their first six meetings in an odd way. Texas swept the A's in Oakland in a big-time statement series in mid-April. Then, the following week, the A's returned the favor and swept Texas in Arlington in dominant fashion.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Colby Lewis (4-4, 5.74 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 1.90); Tuesday — Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.11) vs. Tommy Milone (4-3, 3.47); Wednesday — Nick Tepesch (2-2, 3.94) vs. Sonny Gray (6-3, 2.93).
What's Hot: Traditionally very good against Seattle, Elvis Andrus benefitted from a trip to the Northwest and is now batting .346 over his last six games with a double and two stolen bases. The Rangers' catchers, Chris Gimenez and Robinson Chirinos, are also helping lead the offense. Chirinos is batting .333 with two homers and five RBIs in his four starts in the past six, while Gimenez is matching his .333 average in his two starts. Yu Darvish just keeps one-upping himself, as he tossed his first shutout of his career in his last start on Wednesday while fanning 10 Marlins.
Speaking of hot catchers, the A's have a pair of scorching ones in Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt, who have hit .462 and .417, respectively, over the past week. Craig Gentry is hitting .385 in his four games over the past week, and noted Ranger nemesis Coco Crisp is hitting .273 in his last six games, but leads the team with four RBIs in that span. In Pomeranz's last start, he allowed just one unearned run in seven innings of work but took a no-decision.
What's Not: Shin-Soo Choo had a big game on Wednesday against the Marlins with four RBIs, but since then he's basically fallen back into his extended slump. He's hitting .190 over his last six games. Michael Choice is 1-for-17 in his last four games, and Alex Rios has cooled off with a .217 average in his last six games.
Music to the Rangers' ears here: one of the best players in baseball, Josh Donaldson, is in a putrid stretch right now. He's just 1-for-24 in his last six games with four strikeouts. This, of course, means he's likely to pull a Kyle Seager and have a huge series to spite the Rangers.
Familiar Faces: The Rangers acquired Michael Choice for Craig Gentry in the off-season. Gentry isn't an everyday player for the A's, and never will be. Choice isn't an everyday player for the Rangers, though they hope he someday will be.