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 Oakland A's come to town this week with their mouths watering and their chops being licked over the possibility to put a major dent in the Rangers' division hopes, yes, even in mid-June. The A's could take a 7-game lead in the division with a sweep and have won six of their last 10 games.
Past 2013 Meetings: The teams have met twice — once in Oakland and once in Arlington — and have split the six games so far this year, as the Rangers took two of three in Oakland and the A's took two of three in Arlington.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.30 ERA) vs. Dan Straily (4-2, 4.65); Tuesday — Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.64) vs. Jarrod Parker (5-6, 4.45); Wednesday — Justin Grimm (5-5, 5.59) vs. Tommy Milone (6-6, 3.61); Thursday — Josh Lindblom (0-2, 5.94) vs. A.J. Griffin (5-6, 3.93).
What's Hot: In retrospect, it's no real surprise the Rangers decided to keep Jurickson Profar around after Ian Kinsler returned from the disabled list. As bad as the Rangers' offense has been over this horrid two-week stretch, they have been getting some nice at-bats from Profar, who's hitting .350 over his last six games and has cut down on his strikeouts with just two in that time. Leonys Martin is hitting .333 over the same time and A.J. Pierzynski is hitting .304 with a homer. Guys are hitting, even guys like Adrian Beltre and Lance Berkman, but they just aren't hitting in key situations. The Rangers were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Sunday and that actually upped their average in that situation over the last week. That's not a good sign.
The A's have several guys in the lineup swinging a nice stick right now, something the Rangers don't have. They're lead recently by outfielder Coco Crisp, who doesn't seem to fit the part of being a great weapon but always seems to be just that. He's hitting .429 over the last week. Brandon Moss has slugged three homers in that span, and Josh Reddick has gotten back into a groove since returning from the DL, hitting .350 with a homer over the last five games. Noted Ranger killer Bartolo Colon has given up just two runs in his last 13 innings, and thankfully the Rangers miss him this time around.
What's Not: Where do we begin? The Rangers' offense has slumped dramatically over the past two weeks or so, and that's, in turn, hurt the pitching staff, which is now pitching under immense pressure of knowing one or two runs allowed might be too much for the bats to overcome — never a good situation. Ian Kinsler is 0-for-8 since returning from the DL after heading to the DL as one of the team's best players. It's becoming a concern that the waiting game for David Murphy to come around might last infinitely as long as he's an everyday player, and Elvis Andrus has yet to break out of his season-long slump.
All of the A's pitchers are coming off solid starts with the exception of Griffin, who allowed four runs in six innings his last time out. Two of the A's biggest bats, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson, are also struggling. Donaldson is hitting .130 over the last week, while Cespedes is hitting at a .214 clip and is hitting just .240 on the season after taking the league by storm last year in his debut season after coming from Cuba.
Familiar Faces: The only familiar face here is Ron Washington, who was a third base coach for the A's for 10 years after one season as the first base coach before coming to the Rangers in November 2006.