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: The Rangers can travel light this week as they'll only be a short distance away from home for three games with the Astros. They also don't need to bring a designated hitter along with them, so that should mean no need to check bags and deal with all those fees. That's always nice, although it's not like the Rangers don't have plenty of their own baggage.
Past 2011 Meetings: It was just last week when the battle of Texas got under way in Arlington and the Rangers took two of three games. The two wins both featured long home runs by Mitch Moreland, including one that touched off a mighty thunderstorm. That won't happen this time, however. There's a roof in Houston.
Pitching Matchups: Tuesday - C.J. Wilson (7-3, 3.17 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (0-2, 4.20); Wednesday - Colby Lewis (6-7, 4.44) vs. Brett Myers (3-6, 4.65); Thursday - Matt Harrison (6-6, 3.00) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (5-4, 3.21)
What's Hot: Michael Young's hot week at the plate (.481/.481/1.037) earned him the American League Player of the Week award. The team was 3-3 during games played last week and we wonder if that record wouldn't have been even worse if Young had a merely competent week. The lack of a DH means Young will play a bit of first this week with Moreland in the outfield.
It's always nice to see a journeyman put things together for a career year and that's what it looks like is happening with Astros second baseman Jeff Keppinger. He's crushing the ball right now and leads the team in hitting during June. That such a player is the best thing in an Astros uniform says much about the state of the franchise, but perhaps they'll get something for him before the deadline.
And oral hygiene, at least according to Adrian Beltre.
What's Not: The Josh Hamilton blue eyes thing may be for real. At the very least, it is worth examining more in the years to come. Until there's something resembling proof, however, the team should not be playing into the idea that Hamilton can't play during the day because Rangers lineups without Hamilton are bad Rangers lineups, especially when Elvis Andrus is also on the bench.
It's a broken record to harp on the Rangers bullpen at this point in the season, but something's really got to be done about a group that aids in giving up 22 runs to a Mets team that usually takes a week to score that many times. There's some chatter about trading for Francisco Rodriguez, which isn't without its problems, but the time has come to seriously address this need.
Picking just one Astros player for this section seems cruel so we'll go with a whole position. Astros catchers have hit .199 this season with three homers and 21 RBIs. They've posted a 547 OPS which is awful even for a position like catcher that puts a premium on defense. Carlos Corporan and J.R. Towles are the guys currently holding down the spot. You might want to catch them now because their big league careers don't figure to last much longer.
Familiar Faces: Carlos Lee is actually having a decent month with 14 RBIs and he's hit 20 doubles already this season. Somehow it is hard to get too excited about those numbers when you look at the Astros' record and the amount they are paying Lee. Perhaps that's unfair to Carlos, but, as your momma told you, life ain't fair.