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: Interleague play resumes with a three-game series against the team that ruined the Rangers' first trip to the World Series. The Giants weren't able to keep the thrill alive last season, but they have gotten off to a 33-25 start this season as they try to recapture the magic.
Past 2012 Meetings: Nope. The last one was Game Five of the 2011 World Series. We will not talk about this game anymore.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Matt Harrison (7-3, 4.37 ERA) vs. Barry Zito (5-2, 2.98); Saturday - Scott Feldman (0-4, 7.01) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (4-2, 2.38); Sunday - Alexi Ogando (1-0, 2.27 as a reliever) vs. Tim Lincecum (2-6, 5.83)
What's Hot: No one loves a rough patch in the season, but there's something kinda fun about seeing everyone run around like headless chickens as the Rangers struggle through one. A month ago, this team was being called one of the greatest in recent baseball history. Now they are the cause of much agitation. It wasn't so long ago that no one cared nearly enough about the Rangers for either to happen.
Zito has been written off as a bust for so long that it is hard to remember the time when he was a really good starting pitcher. His peripheral numbers still stink, but Zito has found a way to thrive in spite of them. He'll never live up to the deal the Giants gave him as a free agent in 2007, but he might not be a total lost cause.
Melky Cabrera was once a fourth outfielder with the Yankees and was a minor part of the trade that brought Javier Vasquez to the Bronx. He didn't play well in Atlanta and his career trajectory looked like the unmemorable type ridden by so many others. He had 201 hits for Kansas City last year, though, and has posted remarkable offensive numbers for the Giants this season. He leads the National League in hits and batting average, making him the rare hitter to come to life when moving to the pitcher's heaven of San Francisco.
What's Not: There's not much to like about the Rangers' pitching lineup this weekend. Harrison has struggled to get deep into games, Feldman's career numbers in the Bay Area (1-7, 8.56 ERA) are laughable and Ogando isn't stretched out to start. That spells a lot of work for a relief corps that's going to get overworked quickly at this pace.
Lincecum hasn't won a game since April 28th and he's only been a hard-luck loser in one of the seven starts since that game. It's a shocking run of subpar performances for one of the best pitchers in recent memory and one that makes you wonder if there isn't some injury to blame. There hasn't been an obvious sign of one unless you want to count Lincecum suddenly looking like Feldman.
Randy Galloway's hit job on Josh Hamilton in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram forecasts a long, ugly summer of punditry when it comes to Hamilton's contract. Galloway doesn't like that Hamilton's wife Katie openly told Sports Illustrated that her husband wants to maximize his salary so that he can give more to charity and blasts him to bits on that point because of his lack of loyalty to the Rangers. It's an ugly piece of business (as is much of the SI article because S.L. Price just lets the Hamiltons talk their way into corner after corner) and it is only going to get uglier.
Familiar Faces: Joaquin Arias has been playing a lot of third base in the absence of Pablo Sandoval, something that likely comes as a surprise to anyone who remembers him from his Rangers days. It's not the fact that he's starting at third base so much as the fact that he's starting anywhere at all after making it overwhelmingly clear that he can't hit big league pitching.