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 Houston Astros have the worst record in baseball and have played with what essentially amounts to a Triple-A lineup for the entire season.
Past 2013 Meetings: The Rangers are 7-2 against the Astros this year, including the nationally televised Opening Night game to welcome the Astros to the American League, a game which the Astros won. The next night, Yu Darvish fell one out shy of a perfect game.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Matt Garza (7-2, 3.09 ERA; 1-1, 2.82 as Ranger) vs. Erik Bedard (3-8, 4.29); Saturday — Derek Holland (9-6, 3.02) vs. Brad Peacock (1-4, 7.25); Sunday — Martin Perez (4-3, 3.81) vs. Dallas Keuchel (5-6, 4.96); Monday — Yu Darvish (11-5, 2.72) vs. Brett Oberholtzer (2-0, 2.53).
What's Hot: With Nelson Cruz now suspended for the remainder of the regular season, other guys have to step up for the Rangers' offense. And so far, so good. Adrian Beltre, fresh off AL Player of the Month honors in July, is still red-hot, hitting .407 with two homers and a team-high nine RBIs over the last week. Elvis Andrus is still raking at the plate since the all-star break, hitting .355 since then and .379 over the last week. And that Rangers' bullpen? Yup, with the exception of Robbie Ross, they are still lights-out.
Brett Wallace is smokin' hot for the Astros right now. The young, slugging corner infielder has been doing a lot of slugging over the past week, hitting three home runs and hitting .320 over his last 25 at-bats. And how about Robbie Grossman? Who, you might ask? (I did). Well, Grossman is 11-for-26 in his last seven games with two homers and a team-high seven RBIs. Oberholtzer has been stellar since his call-up, throwing seven shutout innings in his last outing.
What's Not: Over the last week, Ian Kinsler has been on a slide. He's hitting just .207 with a homer and three RBIs as the team's seemingly permanent No. 3 hitter now that Cruz is out of the lineup.
Keuchel wasn't as fortunate as Oberholtzer in his last time out, giving up five runs in just 2 1/3 innings. The Astros aren't getting steady production from their heavily invested second baseman, Jose Altuve. The 5-5 youngster, who got an extension earlier this year, is hitting just .182 over the last week.
Familiar Faces: Lance Berkman, who is currently trying to work his way back from having old knees and hips, spent the first decade-plus of his big-league career as a member of the Astros and is one of the most recognizable faces in the franchise's history.