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: How bad have things gone for the Twins this season? They've won six of their last seven games and are still 15 games under .500. That means it would take them until past the All-Star Game to reach .500 if they went 5-2 every week and they probably aren't going to be able to play at that kind of a pace with their current roster.
Past 2011 Meetings: The Twins are the last team in the American League that the Rangers haven't played yet this season. They'll only see them once more this season for another four game set in Arlington.
Pitching Matchups: Thursday - Derek Holland (5-1, 4.36 ERA) vs. Nick Blackburn (5-4, 3.57); Friday - C.J. Wilson (6-3, 3.03) vs. Brian Duensing (3-5, 4.73); Saturday - Colby Lewis (5-6, 4.37) vs. Scott Baker (3-4, 3.86); Sunday - Matt Harrison (5-5, 3.48) vs. Francisco Liriano (3-6, 5.20)
What's Hot: There's not much upside to spending the first two months of a season losing games on the field and watching players get hurt, but it does give you a chance to look at players who could help the team in the future. Ben Revere, a 2007 first-round pick, has gotten a chance to play regularly in the outfield and he's producing after some early struggles. He's fast, has shown an ability to get on base and his progress would be a nice piece of salvation after the crash and burn to start the year.
Yorvit Torrealba had a big game on Wednesday, right down to things working out when he ran through a stop sign at third base. It continues an offensive resurgence for the guy who was expected to provide the Rangers some stability behind the plate -- .278 on the month -- and it came just when people started to wonder if Mike Napoli shouldn't be the everyday backstop.
The Rangers' decision to draft Johnathan Taylor in this week's draft probably won't amount to a win in the standings, but it is one of the biggest wins any franchise could hope to be a part of.
What's Not: Give the Rangers credit for coming up with a quick solution to the Thad Bosley situation, but it's also a reminder of just how much has to go right for the Rangers to make a run like they did last season. That's not to say Bosley's departure (or presence, quite frankly) made much of a difference, just that you've got to strike just the right balance on and off the field to play deep into October.
The Twins have had disappointing players all over the place, but none have hurt more than the trio of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Francisco Liriano. Mauer's been hurt all year and you wonder if the team got burnt by leaving such an essential player at catcher. Morneau has battled all kinds of injuries after losing much of last season to a concussion, which raises concern that he might never be right in 2011. Liriano looked good in Tuesday's return from the disabled list, so perhaps he'll be more the guy that threw a no-hitter in May than the guy who got bombed in most of his other starts.
Let's all hope that Ian Kinsler's pending fatherhood was the reason why his bat has disappointed this year. If so, his return from paternity leave should jolt the offense. If not, he'll be making a lot more appearances in this section.
Familiar Faces: There aren't any former Rangers on the Twins roster and there aren't any former Twins on the Rangers. So we'll instead use this space to point out that the two franchises both rode the Billy Martin express back in the day. He managed the Twins for one year, went to the playoffs and, in a recurring theme in his career, got fired for brawling with one of his own players at a bar. He took the nascent Rangers to their first winning record in 1974, but was gone halfway through the next season. He did smack traveling secretary Burt Hawkins before getting the boot, so it's not like the whole tenure was for naught.
Martin shuffled off this mortal coil long ago. It's safe to say we aren't going to see another one like him anytime soon.