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On Deck: Rangers Vs. Orioles

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On Deck: Rangers Vs. Orioles

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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: Plenty of people have spent the last two months expecting the Orioles to fade after their strong start to the season, but the fade just isn't coming. The Orioles have gone 11-6 this month to remain in the mix for a playoff spot, a performance that's a credit to the job Buck Showalter has done with a very young team that's light on pitching. It might not wind up with that postseason berth, but it's a long-awaited step in the right direction in Baltimore.

Past 2012 Meetings: Texas took three of four in Baltimore in May, including a pair of games that saw them score 10 and 14 runs. That fits with the lack of pitching that we mentioned up top and it could be a similar series this time with the Rangers coming off an 11-run Sunday.

Pitching Matchups: Monday - Miguel Gonzalez (5-2, 3.38 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (1-1, 8.31); Tuesday - Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.65) vs. Scott Feldman (6-8, 4.63); Wednesday - Tommy Hunter (4-7, 5.49) vs. Derek Holland (7-6, 4.98)

What's Hot: Michael Young hit a home run on Sunday, which begs the question of whether the Mayan prediction that the world will end in 2012 is going to come true. One good day at the office can't overcome everything that's come before, but the nice thing about baseball is that there are plenty of days left to make them seem like nothing more than a narrative for columnists to use as justification for voting for Young as MVP again this season.

Manny Machado is the man the Orioles hope will be their shortstop for the next decade-plus, although he's playing third base since they gave him an early jump into the big leagues by promoting him earlier this month. He's already homered three times, paying back the faith even as you know that there will be rockier days ahead for a player who was riding buses not so long ago.

Joe Nathan's 21 straight saves set a club record, although it hasn't drawn a ton of coverage given everything else that's gone on this season. It's worth noting, though, because the bullpen has been the most consistent part of the team this year and Nathan's success is the biggest reason for that.

What's Not: Ryan Dempster taking a few extra days for personal reasons is perfectly fine, but it doesn't do much to alleviate concerns about his ability to live up to the expectations he brought with him from the Cubs.

Young's home run was unexpected, but necessary since Ian Kinsler has totally lost his way at the plate of late. Is there ever going to be a moment when the Rangers are clicking on all cylinders instead of alternating between torrid players and frigid ones?

The most unbelievable part of the Orioles' rise from the bottom of the barrel is that it has happened without some of the players expected to play a role in their resurgence. Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta haven't developed into strong rotation pieces, Brian Roberts has essentially missed the entire season and Matt Wieters has turned out to be more solid than spectacular. If they hit it with Machado and stud pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, this could be the first year of a long run of success.

Familiar Faces: Hunter has proved to be exactly the kind of cannon fodder he looked like during his time with the Rangers. Chris Davis provides some power to the lineup, which is more than he did in Texas but not quite enough to make him a mainstay for years to come. It does say something good for the Rangers that their spare parts can help a team contend in the AFC East.

Related Topics On Deck, Rangers, Orioles
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