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: Our old friends from Oakland are in for a visit, the first time that the Rangers have played a divisional foe in three weeks. The A's have had a good month, mostly because they benefitted from a similarly cushy interleague schedule as the Rangers. They probably can't hope to do much more than hang around .500, but they've shown enough to make that a possibility.
Past 2012 Meetings: Oakland has won four of six games so far this season, including three-of-four in Oakland earlier this month when the Rangers were going through a rough patch. The key in that series was A's pitching, which held Texas to one run across their three losses.
Pitching Matchups: Thursday - Tyson Ross (2-7, 6.02 ERA) vs. Scott Feldman (1-6, 6.00); Friday - A.J. Griffin (0-0, 3.00) vs. Matt Harrison (10-3, 3.24); Saturday - Tommy Milone (8-5, 3.83) vs. Justin Grimm (1-1, 11.57); Sunday - Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.05) vs. Yu Darvish (10-4, 3.57)
What's Hot: The Rangers scored 20 runs in the last two games which really makes us want to cast off our issues with small sample sizes to declare all well with the offense. We can't quite do that, but it's always nice to have a reminder that these things go in waves.
The A's offense shows no such signs of life. They had just 10 hits in their three game series with the Mariners, but they won two of the three games because their pitching has been fantastic of late. The names are mysterious, especially with Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy injured, but the results are exactly what the A's need right now.
Robbie Ross hasn't given up an earned run since May 14 and he hasn't allowed a run of any kind in June. The bullpen is going to continue to loom large with the Rangers sending starting pitchers to the disabled list in bunches, which makes it nice to have someone like Ross around to do the heavy lifting.
What's Not: It's starting to feel like the Rangers should put one of those boards in their clubhouse that reads "We have gone ____ days without placing a pitcher on the disabled list." Colby Lewis' trip to the injury zone has left the Rangers rotation looking nothing like it did when the season got underway. In other words, it's a good time for the offense to do a little more than its share.
A's shortstop Cliff Pennington doesn't have a hit in his last 17 at-bats. On most teams that would make him a real drag on the offense, but Pennington's futility is hard to notice on a team as offensively challenged as Oakland.
Does there really need to be an annual column about how David Clyde's experiences with the Rangers after being the first overall pick in the 1973 draft? If teams were still rushing high schoolers to the majors so they could sell a few extra tickets, we'd see the point but the cautionary tale has been told, understood and accepted as fact. Let it die.
Familiar Faces: McCarthy is on the disabled list, so there aren't any other former friends kicking around the A's roster. That's okay, though. Familiarity breeds contempt and we are a loving people.