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On Deck: Rangers at Orioles

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On Deck: Rangers at Orioles

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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: Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yards. The Orioles are 5-1 and, to the surprise of everyone in the world who shared a firm conviction of the superiority of the Boston Red Sox, in first place in the AL East.

Pitching Matchups: Friday - Colby Lewis (1-0) vs. Zach Britton (1-0); Saturday - Matt Harrison (1-0) vs. Jake Arrieta (1-0); Sunday - Derek Holland (1-0) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (1-0)

What's Hot: As you can see above, the Orioles have been getting some very good starting pitching. Arrieta and Britton are two big prospects and their first starts were both very strong and if they repeat that a few more times the Orioles could continue to have a surprising record well into the season.

Second baseman Brian Roberts has a 948 OPS and eight RBIs so far this season. His 2010 season was ruined by injury, but the veteran looks to be back in the flower of health thus far.

Camden Yards has been around a while and its style has been copied more often than anything in the latest issue of Vogue. It's still a beautiful place to watch a ballgame, though, and it's dimensions should prove appealing to the Ranger power hitters.

What's Not: Derrek Lee and Adam Jones are both hitting .182 and slugging .318 after the first week. Matt Wieters, hyped to the heavens before hitting the big leagues in 2009, is looking more and more like an average catcher than the second coming of Mike Piazza.

The failure of the world to come up with a reasonable replacement for "The Wire." While it has nothing to do with baseball, the show had everything to do with Baltimore and it is hard not to think about it when we think about life in Charm City.

Familiar Faces: That guy in the Orioles dugout looks an awful lot like Buck Showalter. The former Rangers skipper took over the O's last summer and has done a world of good in changing the attitude of a team that has been awful for most of the last 15 years. He's not afraid to throw a few jabs at the Yankees and Red Sox and his long-standing reputation as being good with young players seems to make him a perfect fit for a team full of them.

Not everyone is callow, though. You'll certainly recognize the inimitable batting style of the Orioles designated hitter as that of Vladimir Guerrero. The Rangers didn't want him back so he took his talents to Baltimore. He's off to a slowish start -- .240 batting average, one homer -- but he's still got the swing that makes him a dangerous player to face in a big spot.

He won't be playing the field, though, so no chance to make the Orioles pay in that department.

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