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 Texas Rangers series during the 2013 season.
The Opponent: The Baltimore Orioles are right in the thick of things in the loaded American League East and are playing with an All-Star starter-laden lineup featuring four players voted as AL starters, including Triple-Crown threat Chris Davis.
Past 2013 Meetings: The teams met just last week in Baltimore and split a four-game series with the Rangers taking the first two games and the Orioles taking the last two.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Derek Holland (8-4, 3.08 ERA) vs Wei-Yin Chen (4-3, 2.82); Saturday — Ross Wolf (1-2, 2.14) vs. Miguel Gonzalez (7-3, 3.48); Sunday — Martin Perez (3-2, 3.00) vs. Chris Tillman (11-3, 3.95).
What's Hot: Like they have for much of the season, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre have been leading the Rangers' offense, especially since Cruz moved to the No. 3 spot in the order after Lance Berkman's struggles went on for too long. Over the past month, Cruz is hitting .313 with four home runs and a team-high 21 RBIs while Beltre is hitting .351 with seven long balls and 17 RBIs in that same time. While Craig Gentry was on the DL, Leonys Martin has become an everyday center fielder, hitting .308 with two homers and eight stolen bases over that past month. In his last 15 at-bats, Mitch Moreland has re-discovered his early-season success and is hitting .400. On the hill, Derek Holland and Martin Perez have both been ace-worthy while Joe Nathan and Neal Cotts have led the effort from the strong bullpen that just got the services of the fully healthy Joakim Soria.
Adam Jones and Chris Davis, both AL All-Star starters, are leading the Orioles' offense at the moment. Neither is hitting at a great clip at .280 and .262, respectively, but they are coming through in key situations and producing runs. Davis, of course, is the main run-producer and has 13 home runs and 32 RBIs in his last 24 games. Chen gave up one run in seven innings in his first start off the DL against the Rangers last week and will get another chance to shut them down in Friday's series opener.
What's Not: Speaking of the Rangers' bullpen, two of the unit's stalwarts, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers, have struggled over the past month, most likely due to being overworked which should hopefully be remedied by the additions of Soria and Cotts. At the plate, super-utility prospect Jurickson Profar has fallen off after adding third base and outfield to his duties and is hitting just .170 over his last 16 games.
Tillman has an ERA approaching 5.00 over his last five starts but is still sporting a 4-1 record thanks to the Orioles' stout lineup. Two All-Stars, shortstop J.J. Hardy and catcher Matt Wieters are hitting just .188 and .214, respectively, over the last month.
Familiar Faces: Where do we even begin? It seems since former Rangers manager Buck Showalter took over in Baltimore, the Orioles have been a place for Rangers cast-offs, and the thing is, most of those guys have gone to Baltimore and had varying levels of success. Here we go: Of course, Davis. Then there's reliever Darren O'Day, future-closer Tommy Hunter and Taylor Teagarden. They just acquired former Ranger pitcher Scott Feldman for former Ranger Pedro Strop.