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: The Rangers won't have any time to dwell on the chance for a four-game sweep of the Angels melting away as they head right to Chicago for three with the White Sox this weekend. It has been a season with more downs than ups for the Sox, but they still sit just four games back of the Tigers at the start of the series. Time's running short, but there's still enough left for Ozzie Guillen to find his way back to the playoffs.
Past 2011 Meetings: It has been almost three months since the Rangers have laid eyes on the White Sox and a lot has changed for both teams. Cody Eppley and Brett Tomko have the two Rangers losses to the Sox this season and Edwin Jackson has one of the three Sox losses. None of those guys are still around, so take what you will from the Rangers' 3-2 record.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Matt Harrison (10-8, 3.19) vs. Jake Peavy (5-5, 4.69); Saturday - Alexi Ogando (12-5, 3.33) vs. John Danks (5-9, 3.95); Sunday - Derek Holland (11-4, 4.23) vs. Gavin Floyd (10-10, 4.66)
What's Hot: Despite the brutal end to Thursday's game, the Rangers have created a lot of cushion for themselves over the last two couple of weeks. The three wins and eight winning innings against the Angels mean they have a six-game lead, but it also means they've demonstrated that their best shot is better than anything Anaheim can muster.
Mike Napoli's homer almost held up on Thursday, but the loss doesn't take any shine off of his play this month. Napoli has five homers and a .306 average for the Rangers, numbers that go very well with Yorvit Torrealba's .400 average in 60 August at-bats. Catching wasn't supposed to be a major offensive driver for the Rangers, but they'll surely take it.
Paul Konerko has been a good player for most of his career, but he's really stepped things up in the last two years. He posted a career-high OPS+ of 159 in 2010 and his 157 mark this season would be the second-best of his career. It is hard to imagine the White Sox would be anywhere close to the top of the AL Central if not for Konerko's superlative play this year.
What's Not: Michael Young only had one hit on Thursday. He had three in each of the first three games of the Angels series. Clearly there is something very wrong with Young and we should all be concerned.
We noted before that the White Sox would be out of the running if not for Konerko. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios are two big reasons why. They were expected to provide some oomph to the offense this season, but have done nothing but elicit groans. Dunn's .298 slugging percentage might be the most shocking statistic of the entire season, if not the last several seasons.
Gordon Beckham hasn't been as bad as that gruesome twosome, but the White Sox were counting on much more from their young second baseman. His strong rookie season of 2009 has been followed by two straight down years and real questions about his future as a big league regular for a contender.
Familiar Faces: Danks hasn't had the best of seasons, but he still represents one that got away for a Rangers team that struggled to fill their rotation before the last couple of years. Ah, the dark old days when the Rangers didn't succeed at just about everything they did.