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: It all comes down to this. There are 10 games left in the season and the next four games will decide whether or not the A's have a chance to make the final six of them particularly dramatic. Oakland's remarkable season has them four games back of the Rangers with a chance to turn this race into a sprint to the finish with a strong performance in Arlington.
Past 2012 Meetings: It's been a split of 12 games thus far. The A's are going to need to do better than that this week to keep more than the longest of shots at the division alive.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Dan Straily (2-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (11-6, 4.42); Tuesday - Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.86) vs. Yu Darvish (16-9, 3.90); Wednesday - Jarrod Parker (11-8, 3.40) vs. Martin Perez (1-2, 3.78); Thursday - Travis Blackley (5-3, 3.48) vs. Matt Harrison (17-10, 3.17)
What's Hot: How good is it to have a series like this? Four game lead, four game series and the opposition is a team that absolutely no one other than Jonah Hill believed could be here. And it's even better that the names in the A's rotation sound like those of guys you barely remember from high school instead of pitchers who have led the team on an improbable playoff run.
The A's are coming off a crazy weekend in the Bronx that saw them win Sunday after losing in extra innings in each of the first two games. The Saturday matchup saw the A's score four times on three homers in the top of the 13th only to give up four in the bottom of the inning and then lose in the 14th even though a Yankee player tried to blow the game by missing third base on what looked like the game-winning hit. Ain't baseball grand?
Mike Napoli homered again this weekend, giving him three in little more than a week since returning from the disabled list. Napoli hasn't had the year anyone was hoping he'd have, but no one will care if he winds up helping the team nail down the division this week.
What's Not: The Monday night matchup was going to be Brett Anderson against Holland until Anderson got hurt. That would make for a pretty hot start to a series that hardly needs it. Straily could play the "Who is this guy handling the Rangers" card, but we'll still miss the marquee matchup.
The Josh Hamilton Story didn't have enough going for it already? Are they already planning a sequel?
Josh Reddick picked the wrong time to go into a slump. He's slugging just .207 in September, robbing the team of an important power source in the heart of the push for playoff positioning.
Familiar Faces: The best thing about this A's run has been the way that completely unknown players have become names we know well. Did Yoenis Cespedes homer again tonight? How did Parker pitch? This series will make any of the remaining mysteries disappear.