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 Indians roll into town to kick off six straight games against sub-.500 opposition for the Rangers as they try to hold onto their three game lead in the AL West. It's a nice bit of scheduling after a long road trip and the Indians don't seem to have enough fire in their bellies to really make a bid to play spoiler.
Past 2012 Meetings: The two teams have split six games so far this season. All of those games have been in Cleveland, however, and the Indians are the final American League team to visit Arlington this season.
Pitching Matchups: Tuesday - Ubaldo Jimenez (9-15, 5.58 ERA) vs. Matt Harrison (15-9, 3.37); Wednesday - Jeanmar Gomez (5-7, 5.33) vs. Ryan Dempster (5-1, 4.36); Thursday - Zach McAllister (5-7, 4.31) vs. Derek Holland (10-6, 4.59)
What's Hot: The end of the Rangers' road trip, the last really grueling bit of business before the end of the season, is cause for smiles in Texas. It's not that the rest of the schedule is going to be a glorified spring training session, but you'd much rather be playing bad teams at home than traipsing all over the country to play tougher competition.
There's not much reason for celebration in Cleveland this season, but they did get an unexpected boost when third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall returned from a broken forearm this week. He homered on Monday and is one of the young players that Cleveland hopes makes for a better tomorrow.
Adrian Beltre's been hot overall this season, but the Indians have been a particularly good opponent for the Rangers third baseman. He's 9-for-17 with three homers against Cleveland this season and stands to make those numbers even more appealing this week.
What's Not: Jimenez was brought to Cleveland to be the foundation of the rotation. He's turned out to be an anchor and is one of the rare pitchers to find less success after leaving the mile high altitude of Denver. If he can't figure things out next season, the rope could start getting short in Ohio.
We mentioned Beltre up top and he'd make a nice MVP candidate in a lot of years. Years without Mike Trout, for starters. Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News wrote a ridiculous little thing about Trout's 855 OPS since the start of August not being MVP material, which ignores the fact that the MVP award concerns the entire season and that no one else has been markedly better. Give Beltre love, but use your head.
Just look at the Indians for further illustration of that. They don't have anyone with an 855 OPS for the entire season, which you'd think they would since it is such a pedestrian number. This also qualifies as something not hot about the Indians, by the way.
Familiar Faces: Travis Hafner is on the disabled list and he's 35 years old which means that the Rangers might not get another look at a player they once gave away without a second thought. Hafner never quite made good on his early showings, but he was good enough to help some mediocre Rangers teams back in the bad old days.