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: After the Tigers added Prince Fielder in free agency, no one gave any teams in the Central much of a chance at winning the division. The Indians don't seem to have gotten that particular memo since they currently sit on top of their roost with a 13-10 record. It's early, of course, but Cleveland is at least willing to give it the old college try.
Past 2012 Meetings: It's the first meeting of the season for the two teams and it's going to be a long time before they see each other again. The teams don't meet again until August 31st and play six times between then and September 13th.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Colby Lewis (3-0, 1.93 ERA) vs. Jeanmar Gomez (1-1, 2.35); Saturday - Derek Holland (2-2, 5.13) vs. Derek Lowe (4-1, 2.27); Sunday - Yu Darvish (4-0, 2.18) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-2, 5.02)
What's Hot: Getting off the turf at the Rogers Centre in Toronto could be what Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton need to get back on the field. The lineup that the Rangers sported without them on Wednesday was strange to look at on paper and unpleasant to watch on the field. Getting those two back would be a good step toward ending this streak of series losses.
Asdrubal Cabrera has missed some games this season, but when he's been in the lineup he hasn't done much to damage his growing reputation as one of the American League's better shortstops. His OPS is just a hair under 900, he fields the position well and he's a big reason why the Indians have popped to the top of the division a month into the season.
Is it even necessary to include Darvish's starts in the matchups? We're assuming that everyone is just circling the dates far in advance and planning their lives in a way that makes sure they're available to watch him pitch. Or is that just us?
What's Not: Holland is really in need of a good start. Three starts would be a blip on the screen, but it's time to see him make an adjustment that finds him back in a groove on the mound. If Holland can get things straightened out, we can move onto Matt Harrison.
The Indians were counting on Shin-Soo Choo rebounding from a 2011 season that went off the rails in about a dozen different directions. It hasn't happened. Choo's hitting just .209 and showing few signs of being the bright young player that he was in 2010. With Johnny Damon on his way to Cleveland, Choo might be fighting for a spot in the lineup before too much longer.
Nelson Cruz hasn't officially hit the 100 at-bat mark for the season yet, but we might as well jump ahead a couple trips to the plate for the sake of nice round numbers. They haven't been a good set of at-bats for him and we're still waiting for a hot streak that gets some life into his game.
Familiar Faces: Travis Hafner's Rangers career was over in the blink of an eye, but it doesn't seem like his Indians run will ever come to an end. There have been a variety of injuries for Hafner over the years, but he always winds up back in the lineup and almost always hits when he's healthy. Not bad for a guy who cost you Ryan Drese.