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 2015 season.
The Opponent: The Houston Astros escaped by the hair of their chins from being swept by the Angels over the weekend to maintain their 1 1/2-game lead over the Rangers in the West.
Past 2015 Meetings: The Rangers have owned the season series despite Houston being in first place for most of the year, as Texas has won eight of the teams' 12 meetings to date with seven remaining over the last two weeks of the season.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Cole Hamels (3-1, 4.07 ERA, as Ranger) vs. Scott Kazmir (2-5, 3.13, as Astro); Tuesday — Martin Perez (2-5, 5.43) vs. Collin McHugh (16-7, 3.89); Wednesday — Derek Holland (3-2, 3.13) vs. Dallas Keuchel (17-7, 2.22); Thursday — Colby Lewis (15-8, 4.45) vs. Lance McCullers (5-5, 3.10)
What's Hot: Shin-Soo Choo is hitting .360 with a .484 on-base percentage over his past seven games with a double, two homers and six RBIs. Despite their low batting averages over the last week, Adrian Beltre (.207) and Rougned Odor (.208) have seven and six RBIs, respectively, over the last seven games thanks to the help of a few long balls on Sunday. Colby Lewis pitched a two-hit, complete-game shutout on Friday night against Oakland and will close the pivotal series with the Astros.
Marwin Gonzalez has played in five games over the last week and is batting .368 with a double and a homer in that time. Carlos Gomez is batting .300 over that same time but missed Sunday's game with an intercostal muscle issue. The Astros' bullpen has been pretty dominant in recent days, when they've had a chance in high-leverage situations.
What's Not: Martin Perez gave up five runs in five innings on seven hits his last time out against Seattle and will look to rebound against an Astros lineup he's had a fair amount of success against. Delino DeShields is batting .154 over his last seven games, while Elvis Andrus is hitting .160 in the same span.
Scott Kazmir, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh each struggled their last time out, with McCullers showing the best but lasting just five innings while allowing seven hits. Astros rookie shortstop Carlos Correa, a favorite for AL Rookie of the Year honors, is batting just .174 over his last six games.
Familiar Faces: These clubs have a few common ties, starting in the front office with Nolan Ryan, who is now with the Houston Astros after a bit of a bitter divorce from Texas following the 2013 season. Delino DeShields, who is has established himself as the Rangers' starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, was a Rule IV draft pick by the Rangers, stolen from the Astros' system.