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On Deck: Rangers at Blue Jays

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    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: We thought that the epitaph for the Blue Jays this season would be that they were unlikely to play in the AL East. As it turns out, they are unlikely to play in the major leagues. With injuries gutting their roster, the Jays have put out a Triple-A team far too often this season and earned their spot in last place as a result.

    Past 2012 Meetings: The Rangers have taken four of six from the Jays this season, although they lost two of three on their last visit to Toronto. That was back in May, though, and the Blue Jays have cycled through a ton of players since then.

    Pitching Matchups: Friday - Yu Darvish (12-8, 4.54 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (1-1, 6.35 since being traded from Houston); Saturday - Ryan Dempster (1-1, 8.31) vs. Carlos Villanueva (6-2, 3.12); Sunday - Matt Harrison (13-7, 3.24) vs. Henderson Alvarez (7-10, 4.48)

    What's Hot: For a team that's appeared to be short on intestinal fortitude from time to time this season, the Rangers showed a nice burst of it on Thursday in the Bronx. Blowing a 4-0 lead in the blink of an eye is the type of thing that can leave you looking for a way out, but the Rangers battled back and put a little bit of lipstick on a pig of a trip to New York.

    All of the injuries have opened doors in Toronto so it's nice to see players like Moises Sierra and David Cooper walk through them. Both have hit well in August and given at least a little bit of hope to a situation that's gone very bad.

    This is the last really tough stretch of the Rangers schedule, with 13 of 16 games on the road. They've gone 7-6 in the first 13 of those games, which isn't too bad given the circumstances and will look pretty darned good if they can take this series.

    What's Not: White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis reported that he was heckled by Blue Jays fans during Thursday's game after he altered medical personnel to a man having a heart attack in the stands. Youkilis got razzed while medics were working on the man, who did not survive. Seriously Toronto?

    The good news for Mike Napoli is that Geovany Soto hasn't done much to push him out of a job. The bad news for the Rangers is that he hasn't done it because he's been even less effective at the plate than Napoli.

    Injuries are bad for every team, but they're particularly bad for this Jays team. A healthy roster would be making a run at the Wild Card, but losing so much pitching and hitting all at once made that impossible. That window opened because of off years for the Rays and Red Sox, which probably isn't something the Blue Jays want to count on happening every year.

    Familiar Faces: Not too many, thanks to the injuries, but the ageless Omar Vizquel is still kicking it in the middle of the Toronto infield. Vizquel won't be remembered as a Ranger except when people look back at his career and wonder how in the world he kept playing well enough at an advanced age that teams kept lining up to sign him.