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 Blue Jays have an identical record as the Rangers, but they're in a much better place, winning six of their last 10 games.
Past Meetings: Last year, the Blue Jays owned the Rangers, as Texas dropped six of seven games against their Canadian neighbors, including a four-game sweep in Arlington.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Yu Darvish (3-1, 2.33 ERA) vs. Drew Hutchinson (1-3, 4.37); Saturday — Mark Buehrle (7-1, 2.04) vs. Colby Lewis (3-2, 4.99); Sunday — R.A. Dickey (4-3, 4.53) vs. TBD*
*Expect Robbie Ross Jr. to go on Sunday since Nick Martinez worked in relief on Wednesday
What's Hot: Elvis Andrus has finally figured it out — earlier than he did last year when he was awful until the season's second half. Over the past seven games, he's hitting .414 with four doubles. Speaking of figuring it out, how 'bout Prince Fielder, who's started to hit against the annoying defensive shift and is reaping the benefits, hitting .391 over his last seven with a team-high five RBIs in that span. Darvish and Lewis have combined to toss 14 2/3 scoreless innings in their previous start, of course Darvish's was much more impressive as he nearly no-hit the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays have tons of firepower in their lineup. Jose Reyes, who's battled injury ever since being traded in that mega-deal from Miami to Toronto, is hot right now. He's hitting .348 with a .400 on-base percentage over the last seven games. He's hit three doubles, a triple and a homer over that span. Former PED bust Melky Cabrera is having a great year, and he's hitting .320 over the last week while Jose Bautista has a team-high eight RBIs over the last seven games. Buerhle is currently the AL Cy Young favorite.
What's Not: Shin-Soo Choo, who's been so great all year, is hitting just .179 over his last seven games with 14 strikeouts and two walks — not his typical leadoff, on-base machine numbers. Ross, who will likely draw the start on Sunday, was roughed up in his last outing, giving up five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Hutchinson lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his previous outing, though he only allowed three runs before being yanked. Noted Ranger killer Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .231 over his last seven games but he does have two homers in that span and six RBIs.
Familiar Faces: Jason Frasor and J.P. Arencibia were teammates in Toronto for years before being reunited in Texas. Alex Rios also got his start in the Jays' organization, spending the first five years of his career north of the border. Speaking of starting his career with the Jays, Michael Young was drafted by the Blue Jays before being traded to Texas. He never played a big-league game for Toronto.