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 2012 season.
The Opponent: When perusing the schedule before the start of the season, you didn't need a crystal ball to predict that a September set between the Angels and Rangers would be meaningful for both teams. You probably didn't guess that it would be for different reasons. The Angels need wins to stay in the race for a Wild Card spot and a remote chance at the division while the Rangers need to stay up on the A's. Not what we thought, but entertaining all the same.
Past 2012 Meetings: The Angels lead the series 7-6, but the only two that matter are the two wins that the Rangers had to close out the last meeting between the teams. Their back-to-back comebacks snuffed the Angels' push for the division title and snapped the Rangers out of a midseason funk.
Pitching Matchups: Tuesday - Ryan Dempster (6-1, 4.11 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (17-4, 2.74); Wednesday - Derek Holland (10-6, 4.50) vs. C.J. Wilson (12-9, 3.73); Thursday - Yu Darvish (15-9, 4.02) vs. Zach Grienke (5-2, 3.78)
What's Hot: Just about everything having to do with this series. Huge stars on both sides, the best rookie in baseball history, massive playoff implications, big trade acquisitions on the hill and the whole C.J. Wilson thing. His matchup with Holland is kinda perfect, as Wilson's trying to keep his new team alive while his old team turns to one of the guys that made his departure possible.
While we're on the topic of how great this series looks on paper, let's tip our collective cap to the second Wild Card spot. The fear was that we'd never see another end run like the one in 2011, but it's kept things alive in more places than in most recent years. That will change if the Angels can't come through this weekend, but there will potentially still be three division races to sort out if that's the way it goes.
Michael Young's a veteran baseball player, but he's closing this season like a professional prizefighter. Win the last 30 seconds of a round and it leaves an impression on the judges, just as Young's recent surge will leave a better taste than the months of poor play.
What's Not: Albert Pujols has a 676 OPS this month and one homer in 66 September plate appearances. His overall season has been strong enough, but remember that whole Young/boxing analogy a paragraph ago? Just switch it around for Pujols.
The Yankees and Angels are the teams mentioned in this New York Post article about teams being upset with StubHub's relationship with Major League Baseball because too many cheap tickets are available so it tangentially merits inclusion here. The lesson for teams isn't that they are aligned with the wrong service. It's that the market is telling you that you're charging too much for your product.
Topic for between innings - How much does Nelson Cruz's season impact the Josh Hamilton decision?
Familiar Faces: Since you know the Angels well by now, we'll just direct you to Mike Trout's Baseball Reference page so that you can take a moment to marvel in just how amazing his rookie season has been. You won't want to do it once the game starts and you're rooting for Trout to strike out.