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On Deck: Rangers at Twins

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On Deck: Rangers at Twins

Getty Images

Joe Mauer at the plate for the Twins.

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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 2013 season. 

The Opponent: The Minnesota Twins are the first team with a winning record the Rangers have faced this year if you don't count the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the season. That's pretty wacky to think about.

Past 2013 Meetings: This is the first meeting between the teams in 2013 and the first since August 2012 when the Rangers won three of four games over the Twins in Arlington. The Rangers won 8 of 10 meetings last year including a three-game sweep at Target Field last April.

Pitching Matchups: Thursday — Nick Tepesch (1-1, 3.07 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (0-2, 7.11); Friday — Justin Grimm (1-0, 2.70) vs. Scott Diamond (1-1, 4.35); Saturday — Derek Holland (1-1, 3.25) vs. Pedro Hernandez (0-0, 3.48); Sunday — Alexi Ogando (2-1, 3.12) vs. Kevin Correia (2-1, 2.86).

What's Hot: Nelson Cruz has three home runs and nine RBIs in the past four games, and the Rangers' bullpen has been surprisingly effective after entering the season as one of the team's main question marks. Tanner Scheppers and Joe Ortiz have stepped up in a big way to at least temporarily quell the worries of the club entering the 2013 season.

The Twins haven't had much offense as of late, but their starting pitching has carried them to a 9-8 record heading into Thursday's series opener, led by Diamond and Correia.

What's Not: The Rangers are still waiting for Adrian Beltre's bat come to life and he started showing some signs of that in Anaheim this week but wasn't helped out by some great defensive plays from the Angels. They also aren't getting much from long relief man Derek Lowe, but luckily, he's the long relief man.

Justin Morneau is 1 for his last 16 at-bats and has really not ever come back to being himself after dealing with some concussion problems for the past few years.

Familiar Faces: A.J. Pierzynski came up with the Twins and played his first six seasons in Minnesota. Ron Washington, of course, was a journeyman infielder in the big leagues and spent much of his time in Minnesota.

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