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: Once more, it is the Oakland A's and there's no margin for error for them if they hope to win the AL West this season. A split in the four-game series last week meant that the A's left Texas with four games to make up over the final six days of the regular season. They've made up two of them, but will need to sweep the Rangers over the next three days to finish the job. It's a tall task, but the A's are pretty much playing with house money at this point in the proceedings.
Past 2012 Meetings: We're all knotted at 8 after the first 16 games between the two teams which suggests that there's no silver bullet on either side to winning these games. That's probably more reassuring to the Rangers than the A's since the home team needs to win out to put the icing on a cake no one expected them to bake.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - Martin Perez (1-3, 5.03 ERA) vs. Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.44); Tuesday - Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26) vs. Travis Blackley (5-4, 4.00); Wednesday - Ryan Dempster (7-3. 4.64) vs. A.J. Griffin (7-1, 2.71)
What's Hot: There might not be any drama left after Monday night, but that doesn't make it any less fun to enter the final series of the season with the division title hanging in the balance. And the fact that Harrison is the only one of the six starters you would have expected to see in this series when the season got underway makes it all the more exciting.
Speaking of Harrison, he's got a chance to double down on his huge win last Thursday over the A's if the two teams enter Wednesday's game with just a game between them in the standings. Pulling off two wins against that backdrop won't leave much doubt about who the team's top playoff starter should be this October.
Yoenis Cespedes has put together a season that would win him the Rookie of the Year award in most years. Most years don't have Mike Trout hitting the scene, however. Cespedes will have to settle for being a big part of an offense that has done well enough to put Oakland into the thick of the division race.
What's Not: Playing in the Wild Card winner take all nine inningpalooza (not an official name) is technically making the playoffs, but it would be hard to avoid feeling disappointed if that's where the Rangers find themselves after Wednesday's game.
The return of the A's to the playoff mix has spurred a revival of Moneyball references that serve only to reveal that its detractors either haven't read the book, seen the movie or understood either one. This team is built very differently than those A's teams because Billy Beane's method has been and will always be about maximizing return on relatively small investments instead of some slavish devotion to walks.
Adrian Beltre's shoulder is aching, Michael Young's Achilles is barking and Mike Adams is dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome that's causing numbness in his right arm. It's not clear how long any of them will be out, but it certainly isn't the desired way to roll into the series that decides who wins the division.
Familiar Faces: If they aren't all familiar by now, you just haven't been paying attention so nothing we're going to say will mean a thing.