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: Since being the best team in baseball at the MLB trade deadline and making what appeared to be pennant-clinching moves by acquiring some stud starting pitching, the A's have fallen off the wagon and are now fighting for a wild card spot.
Past 2014 Meetings: Buoyed by an early-season sweep, the Rangers are 5-7 against the A's this year with seven games remaining against them this month.
Pitching Matchups: Tuesday — Nick Tepesch (4-7, 4.47 ERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (14-8, 3.32); Wednesday — Derek Holland (1-0, 0.86) vs. Jeff Samardzija (4-5, 3.41); Thursday — Nick Martinez (3-11, 4.93) vs. Sonny Gray (13-8, 3.18).
What's Hot: A couple of part-timers — Luis Sardinas and J.P. Arencibia — are both swinging the bat well right now, as is regular stud Adrian Beltre. Beltre is hitting .300 with a homer over his last six games. Holland has been red-hot since making his debut a couple of weeks ago and allowed just one run over seven innings in his last outing.
Want to know what's killing the A's during this dreadful stretch that has now lasted more than a month? Here's a good example: Eric Sogard, yes, the glasses-wearing, light-hitting Eric Sogard is the A's top hitter over the past week among all regulars, and he's batting .286 in that time. Samardzija is coming off an outing that saw him toss seven shutout innings. Kazmir allowed one run over eight innings in his last outing.
What's Not: You have to wonder if Robbie Ross is ever going to get it right again. The dominant reliever turned failed starter is now a failed reliever. In his last outing, he worked an inning and allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. While getting regular playing time, Michael Choice is hitting just .167 in his last six games and left Sunday's win with an injury after an RBI double.
As great as the A's starting pitching has been recently, they're having the same problem the Rangers have had all year. Offensive anchor Josh Donaldson is hitting .258 over the last week and the once-scorching Brandon Moss is batting .188 in that time.
Familiar Faces: Choice, the former Athletic, and Craig Gentry, the former Ranger who was dealt for Choice, are both injured and likely won't play in the series. We used to be able to say the Rangers' manager was a longtime coach for the A's, but we can't say that anymore. The A's acquired Geovany Soto a few weeks back for cash considerations to provide catching depth, but he isn't starting for Oakland.