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: Every time the Red Sox look like they're still alive and kicking in the Wild Card race, they have a stretch like the one they just had against the Tigers and hapless Twins. They were 53-51 on Tuesday, then promptly dropped four straight games to knock themselves back below .500. They're still only 4.5 games out of the Wild Card hunt, but more than a year of mediocre to terrible play makes it impossible to suggest they have a claim on a playoff spot.
Past 2012 Meetings: The writing was already on the wall for the Red Sox when they lost a pair of games to the Rangers by a combined score of 24-6 and it was etched in stone when they dropped two of three to Texas in late July.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.38 ERA) vs. Aaron Cook (2-5, 5.24); Tuesday - Ryan Dempster (0-0, 15.43 in one start with Rangers) vs. Jon Lester (5-9, 5.36); Wednesday - Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.17) vs. Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.54)
What's Hot: Sunday's game didn't go exactly as the Rangers might have hoped, but the weekend trip to Kansas City gave sign that the jolt of energy visible in the last two Angels games wasn't just a momentary visit to the land of the hot. There's a lot more energy around the team and the results are backing up the idea that a talented team without heart is worth about as much as an untalented team with loads of it.
Adrian Gonzalez could go in the familiar faces category, but we'll spare Jon Daniels the misery of being reminded that he traded a player of Gonzalez's ability for Adam Eaton. Gonzalez had his best month of the season in July, bringing his numbers into the semi-respectable spot for the season to date. He's kept hitting into August and any fears born in the first half have been set to rest.
Joe Nathan's downturn is definitely troubling, but the team's decision to rest him and hand closing duties to Alexi Ogando over the weekend makes it easier to handle. Ogando nailed down two saves in Kansas City and would make a fine fill-in choice at any point in the future if Nathan can't answer the bell.
What's Not: It's a big start for Darvish. He's not losing his rotation spot or anything like that, but he's been humiliated in two straight starts and he's been awful on the road last season. The team has to start thinking about roles for the postseason and it would be swell to see some of the Rangers pitchers start earning them.
As angry as Red Sox fans are at Bobby Valentine, the front office and the Red Sox players, they should spare some vitriol for the rest of the American League. If a couple of teams would just run away with things on the Wild Card front, the Red Sox would be long out of their misery and they might have made more moves to back out of a roster that isn't winning. They are just close enough to fool everyone into thinking they have a shot and that's the worst place to be in baseball.
That Roy Oswalt signing sure is working out, huh? There's a few babies that Oswalt can slap around if he isn't satisfied with everything else he's done wrong.
Familiar Faces: Gonzalez and Valentine have already been mentioned and no one should spend any time talking about Vicente Padilla. That means we're left to chat about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has never turned out to be great but is a perfectly reasonable starting catcher. Consider that he's probably the fourth best player acquired for Mark Teixeira and you have one of the most impressive trade hauls in baseball history.