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: It's a brief stop back in Texas for three with the Tigers for the Rangers before heading back out on the road for 10 more games. Detroit has won six of seven to stay close enough to the Indians to feel good about their chances of taking advantage if Cleveland keeps coming back to Earth. They will likely get Magglio Ordonez back during the series, although it remains to be seen if he's going to be a great help after hitting .172 before getting hurt.
Past 2011 Meetings: The Tigers took two of three from the Rangers in Detroit back in April, although the series is best remembered for Josh Hamilton's ill-fated dash to the plate.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Max Scherzer (6-2, 4.38) vs. Colby Lewis (5-5, 3.48); Tuesday - Rick Porcello (5-3, 3.79) vs. Matt Harrison (5-4, 3.26); Wednesday - Phil Coke (1-5, 3.81) vs. Alexi Ogando (6-0, 2.20)
What's Hot: The Rangers pitching is about the hottest thing in baseball right now. In their last 20 games, the Rangers starters have 15 quality starts and a 2.39 ERA. Every guy that takes the ball is doing as well or better than the man before him and that's helped the Rangers get back to being eight games over .500 for the first time since the game where Hamilton hurt himself.
All the pitching in the world can't help you score runs, of course, so we'd be remiss to not point out the way the Rangers have been hitting the ball. Hamilton and Nelson Cruz look like they are back on their games and Elvis Andrus is coming off a torrid week on the road. All in all, the Rangers team were expecting to see this year seems to have arrived.
When last the Rangers saw the Tigers, Ron Washington raised some eyebrows for choosing to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera in favor of bringing the winning run to the plate. If he's making his decisions on recent results, expect to see a lot more wide ones for Cabrera. He's homered four times in his last six games and has the second-best OPS in the American League.
What's Not: Ian Kinsler might want to change his mental calender from June to some other month he likes a little better. He's hitless in his first 19 at-bats of the month, a step down from his already modest offensive results to this point in the season. The law of averages says things will turn around at some point, but when that point might arrive is anybody's guess.
Scherzer won his first six decisions of the season, but he's gone off the rails of late. He's lost two of his last three starts and allowed seven runs in each of the last two outings. His strikeout rate remains excellent, but the Rangers should have chances to score some runs on Monday night.
As of now, we're assuming Harrison will make his start but it is in some doubt for the second straight turn through the rotation. The blister is fine, but now he's got kidney stones giving him pain. Anyone who's had them can empathize with the pitcher while simultaneously wondering how he'd make it through Tuesday's game.
Familiar Faces: Joaquin Benoit, the biggest offseason acquisition for the Tigers, struggled mightily over the first six weeks of the season. He got dumped as the primary set-up man and his free agent deal looked like a major misfire. It's a long season, though, and eight straight scoreless outings have done a lot to paint a prettier picture in the Detroit bullpen.