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: What was looking like a refreshing change of pace season for the Royals has taken on a familiar patina of late. They've dropped 10 of their last 12 games and the season is rapidly looking just like the last seven losing years. Bad news for the Royals, good news for the Rangers.
Past 2011 Meetings: The Royals split a pair of meetings with the Rangers in K.C. earlier this month with Neftali Feliz blowing saves in each of the games. The Royals were also in Arlington back in April when they lost all three games to the Rangers.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Nathan Adcock (1-0, 1.66 ERA) vs. Colby Lewis (4-5, 3.69); Saturday - Sean O'Sullivan (2-3, 5.60) vs. Matt Harrison (4-4, 3.62); Sunday - Danny Duffy (0-0, 3.86) vs. Alexi Ogando (5-0, 1.81)
What's Hot: Ogando-mania is starting to run wild. Every time he goes out and throws a gem, it puts another nail into the coffin of the idea that there's a chance he'll be sent back to working as a reliever at any point this season. The fact that the Rangers are now not even considering limiting his workload makes you think the team knows it might have stumbled onto something very special.
The returns of Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton were pretty enjoyable on Monday and it is nice to see the real Rangers lineup back at work even if the rest of the series with the White Sox didn't go so swimmingly. This weekend's pitchers -- Adcock and Duffy have three career starts between them and O'Sullivan isn't very good -- could get all cylinders clicking.
As you saw above, there's really nothing all that hot about the Royals on the field right now. As we discussed before last week's series, the thing that Kansas City is clinging to right now is the bubbling pipeline of talent coming out of their minor league system. At least that makes the losing a little bit easier to swallow.
What's Not: If you're around the Ballpark this weekend it would be a good time to catch the Rangers. They'll be on the road for 17 of their next 20 games, a rough stretch of schedule that makes this three-game set pretty important as a way to take care of business before hitting the open road.
Eric Hosmer has hit the first wall in his brief big league career. He's gone 5-for-27 since picking up three hits in the last game against the Rangers a week ago. Perhaps a trip to one of the league's best offensive parks will perk up the game of baseball's most exciting rookies.
Whatever your thoughts of John Rhadigan's work as the Rangers' play-by-play announcer, the way the team handled his brief tenure could not have looked much worse. Expecting someone with no experience at any level to step into the job and be spectacular from day one is asinine, so the Rangers shouldn't get too much credit for pulling the plug on something that obviously wasn't working. Perhaps this how the scales get balanced for striking gold with Ogando.
Familiar Faces: In the first series of the year, Jeff Francoeur was one of the best hitters in baseball. Last week he had started to slip and the intervening games did nothing to halt the slide. Frenchy seems destined for another year just like all the others he's turned in since making people think he was a star as a rookie.