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: A week of divisional matchups gets underway with a visit from the A's. Oakland has moved into a second-place tie with the Rangers, who continue to crumble under the weight of injuries across the roster.
Past 2011 Meetings: The A's took three of four from the Rangers in Oakland during the last road trip. Texas scored just seven runs in the three losses, the last of which came when Hideki Matsui launched a ball into the stands off of Darren Oliver in the 10th inning last Monday.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Trevor Cahill (5-0, 1.79 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (4-1, 2.92); Tuesday - Brett Anderson (2-2, 2.77) vs. Colby Lewis (2-4, 5.21); Wednesday - Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 2.68) vs. Matt Harrison (3-4, 4.35)
What's Hot: Monday's matchup should be a lot of fun to watch. Wilson threw one of the best starts of his career in his last trip to the mound and Cahill has been as good as any pitcher in baseball through this point in the season. They hooked up in the last series between the two teams with Cahill winning a 3-1 decision. A repeat of that game wouldn't be a surprise.
There hasn't been much to smile about around the Rangers these days, but Julio Borbon's recent play has been one reason to grin. His fielding is still a bit more adventurous than you'd like from a center fielder, but he's hitting and the Rangers need all the help they can get right now. Even when he doesn't get hits, he helps. His squeeze bunt on Saturday was perfectly executed and led to the only win of the weekend.
Also hot right now is criticism of Ron Washington for sticking with Dave Bush long enough on Sunday for Bush to give up Derek Jeter's first homer of the season. It's a fairly difficult argument to buy. The Rangers bullpen is short on right-handed options and it would be swell to hear if those hating on Wash would have liked to see Mark Lowe, Ryan Tucker or Cody Eppley (he of the total eighth-inning meltdown) on the mound instead of just complaining about Bush.
What's Not: Where to begin? The Rangers really can't afford to have Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler in horrible slumps while Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton convalesce. Beltre, in particular, needs to start showing that he's more than a guy who knows his way around a contract year. The bullpen hasn't been too hot, but the rotation needs to get deeper into games and the defense has let the team down far too often.
Thankfully, the A's aren't a good enough offensive team to really push these weaknesses to great advantage. They are clearly good enough to beat the Rangers, we've already seen that, but this is a good shot for the home team to get back on track.
Familiar Faces: No Brandon McCarthy this time around so there aren't any actual former Rangers to fill this entry. The fact that they just played a week ago means that everyone will be well acquainted when the series gets underway on Monday night.