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: The Rangers and Twins share some Senators DNA so perhaps it isn't surprising that they have played the 2012 season as exact opposites as one another. The Rangers have a 72-51 record entering Thursday's game and the Twins have a 51-72 mark, helpful shorthand for just how different the circumstances are for these ancestors of Walter Johnson. And the Twins, who were a consistent playoff team recently, also provide the Rangers with a helpful reminder of how a few bad decisions can destroy everything you've built.
Past 2012 Meetings: The Rangers have taken five of six from the Twins this season and have only allowed more than three runs in those six games. Keeping those trends alive will go a long way toward pushing the Rangers toward the end of this long divisional race.
Pitching Matchups: Thursday - Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.95 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (4-2, 6.04); Friday - Samuel Deduno (4-1, 3.33) vs. Matt Harrison (14-7, 3.19); Saturday - Brian Duensing (3-8, 4.46) vs. Ryan Dempster (2-1, 6.04); Sunday - Cole De Vries (2-5, 4.89) vs. Scott Feldman (6-9, 4.77)
What's Hot: Adrian Beltre hit three home runs on Wednesday, ending a little slump in about the most flamboyant fashion possible. Beltre's done his best work this season against pitchers who throw hard, something that the Twins will likely keep in mind when approaching him in this series. It helps that they don't have anyone who throws particularly hard.
Diamond and Deduno have won 70 percent of their combine decisions, a pretty remarkable total given that the Twins have won a shade over 35 percent of the games that saw other pitchers wind up with wins or losses. Neither one qualifies as a skyrocketing future star, but the Twins need guys capable of not imploding almost as much as they need star power.
Oswalt and Dempster are coming off strong performances, giving some hope that the two National League refugees might be able to adapt to their new surroundings before it is too late. We're not sure that beating this Twins team says anything particularly good about a pitcher, but the opposite would definitely be a crusher.
What's Not: Ron Gardenhire has been the Twins manager for a long time and he's done a very good job for most of that time, but you have to wonder if it might be time to head in a different direction. We're not arguing that there's a manager alive that could take this team to better results than Gardy, but there's something to be said about a breath of fresh air in the clubhouse and things are pretty stagnant in the Twin Cities.
Whether or not they fire Gardenhire, it's time for the Twins to find a way to get more talent onto the roster. The pipeline isn't dry, exactly, but it's awfully short on the kinds of difference making youngsters that will bring the team back to the life they've been living since the turn of the century.
Mike Olt hasn't started a game in a week and a player whose best skill is his bat is now getting used as a defensive replacement. That's more useful for the Rangers now and in the future than playing every day in Triple-A for what reason, exactly?
Familiar Faces: Joe Nathan probably knows a few of these guys, but there won't be many other old buddies trading pictures of the kids this weekend.