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: It's time for an American League Championship Series rematch as the Rangers roll into the Bronx for three games with the Yankees. They should not expect warm congratulations on last season's success upon their arrival to the stadium that replaced the House that Ruth Built.
Pitching Matchups: Friday - Matt Harrison (2-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (1-0, 6.10); Saturday - Derek Holland (2-0, 2.25) vs. Freddy Garcia (first start of season); Sunday - Alexi Ogando (2-0, 0.00) vs. CC Sabathia (0-1, 1.45)
What's Hot: Seats in the outfield will have a great chance of creating souvenirs this weekend. The Yankees have slammed a major league-best 21 home runs so far this season, the Rangers have 18 of their own and Yankee Stadium is one of the more homer-happy yards in the entire game.
Signing Russell Martin was one of the few moves the Yankees made during a quiet offseason, but he's proven that big things can come in small packages. He's given the Yankees a presence behind the plate that they haven't had since Jorge Posada was a young pup and his bat -- .289, three homers -- has given them some nice thump at the bottom of the order.
It's almost not worth including Robinson Cano in a list like this because pointing out that he's a dangerous hitter is like pointing out the stupidity of shooting off fireworks in a house made of dry grass. He's off to a great start, though, and he's likely to come up with at least one big hit over the course of the weekend.
That Ogando-Sabathia matchup in prime time should be pretty sweet. If Alexi can keep his scoreless streak alive through that one, then we might have to start spelling his name O-gando. Lame, yes, but it would be seriously impressive.
What's Not: Brett Gardner was promoted to the leadoff spot in spring training because he thrived at getting on base and creating havoc on the basepaths in 2010. He's got just a .227 on-base percentage thus far, though, and hasn't created much havoc of any kind.
The whole Yankee outfield is having a hard time in the early going. Nick Swisher drove in the winning run Thursday and Curtis Granderson had two doubles, but they've mostly been drags on an offense that's had to put up a lot of runs to stay ahead of their pitching staff.
The Rangers drew some bad luck this series by not getting a shot at Phil Hughes. The one-time phenom looks totally lost on the mound right now, but Nova and Garcia should provide a pretty good welcome to the Bronx in his stead. As always, it is best to get the scoring done early when facing the Yankees because Mariano Rivera has remained history's greatest exception to the aging process.
Familiar Faces: Assuming you haven't had any unfortunate run-ins with falling anvils, you should remember most of these guys from last October.
You probably particularly remember the guy wearing number 13 for the Yankees, though. He's a bit less muscular, playing a different position and winning a lot more often, but it is still Alex Rodriguez. He's hitting like the A-Rod we all know and, well, somebody loves, after a 2010 season that was a bit disappointing.
Mark Teixeira would be the other guy to elicit a strong reaction from the Rangers faithful. He's only hitting .225, but that's actually way beyond his normal April contributions. Boo him for refusing to sign long-term if you like, but just keep in mind that dealing him brought Harrison, Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz to Texas. Which would you really prefer?