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 2011 season.
The Opponent: The push for the division title continues in Arlington as the Rangers play host to the A's for three games. The Rangers still haven't rediscovered their A-game, but this would be a good weekend for them to do it. The Angels are hosting the Yankees and, as you'll see just below, the A's have had their issues beating the Rangers this season.
Past 2011 Meetings: The Rangers lead the series 9-4, which is far less significant than the fact that they've won the last eight games between the two teams. They've also won five in a row in Texas, further reason to believe that this weekend could wind up giving them some much-needed breathing room over their pursuers.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Brandon McCarthy (8-7, 3.41) vs. Colby Lewis (11-10, 4.32); Saturday - Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.20) vs. Alexi Ogando (12-7, 3.66); Sunday - Rich Harden (4-2, 4.74) vs. C.J. Wilson (15-6, 3.13)
What's Hot: Ian Kinsler's been a man of streaks this season, something you simply have to accept as part of having him as your second baseman. He's in the midst of a hot streak at the plate right now, something that usually bodes well for the team. One place he hasn't been streaky is in the field where he's been great pretty much every single day of the season.
Wilson is coming off his first career shutout, a milestone that continued his maturation into a bona fide ace. The Rangers are 10-7 when Wilson starts following a loss this season, which is actually a blip below the 11-5 record he posted in 20 such starts last season. All of that is going to make him a rich man this offseason, hopefully it happens in Texas.
This hasn't been a season of much glory for the A's, but they will leave it with at least one bright shining hope for the future. Jemile Weeks has hit .303 since his recall earlier this summer and he's stepped up his game this month. There's still room for him to grow as a player, but offensively-challenged Oakland will take him even with his flaws.
What's Not: Lewis and Ogando need to show that they've still got enough in the tank to help the Rangers the rest of the way. Lewis has been pretty rancid in his last three starts and has been giving up home runs at a rate rarely seen outside of video games. Ogando is coming off an extended rest, although it remains to be seen what effect it will have on his potentially overtaxed right arm.
Either Leonys Martin is ready to play in the big leagues or he isn't. The Rangers called up the Cuban defector before rosters expanded on September 1st, but they've seen fit to use him exactly three times since he arrived on the scene. There has to be some reason, even just to play defense or pinch run, why they felt it was a good idea to bring him up. Now's a good time to learn what it was.
Cataloging the list of disappointments of this A's season would take more space than we have available right here. Young players didn't develop or got hurt and new acquisitions flopped across the board. At least the trailers for Moneyball look good.
Familiar Faces: McCarthy flopped in Texas, but he's been one of the few good things to happen to the A's this season. He struck out 10 in a three-hit shutout his last time on the hill and he's won three of his last four starts overall. He'll never recover the sheen he had as a prospect, but there looks to be some life left in him yet.