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 2012 season.
The Opponent: The Rangers might have the best record in baseball, but the Yankees are coming off quite a weekend themselves. They beat the Red Sox twice, including Saturday's 15-run onslaught to erase a 9-0 Boston lead, and totally ruined the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park. The pitching hasn't been great, but the Yankees remain one of the best teams in all of baseball.
2011 Rewind: The Yankees overcame questions about the quality of their pitching staff to win another AL East crown. They couldn't make it back for an ALCS rematch against the Rangers, though, because their bats went cold in the playoffs against the Tigers.
Pitching Matchups: Monday - CC Sabathia (1-0, 5.59) vs. Derek Holland (2-0, 3.10); Tuesday - Hiroki Kuroda (1-2, 5.00) vs. Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.57); Wednesday - Phil Hughes (1-2, 6.75) vs. Scott Feldman (0-0, 0.00 in two relief appearances)
What's Hot: It's pretty fun to be the best team in baseball, isn't it? Especially with the Yankees, the former measuring stick for the American League, in town for a three-game set. It has been a heady two-plus years for the franchise and this moment feels like a culmination of everything that's gone on over that time.
We've long marvelled at Mariano Rivera's ability to put the ravages of time in a closet, but we may have been too quick to assume that Derek Jeter wasn't sipping from the same fountain of eternal youth. Jeter had a strong second half last year and is off to a blazing start in 2012.
Tokyo probably won't be getting too much sleep on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The Kuroda-Darvish matchup is going to be big business on the other side of the Pacific. It's an interesting matchup as Kuroda has struggled in his transition to the American League and Darvish is facing another top lineup after his best start to date in Detroit.
What's Not: We're not going to argue that the Rangers did or didn't deserve to win on Sunday in Detroit, but baseball's absolute refusal to utilize technology for instant replay makes them look utterly ridiculous. Alberto Gonzalez's bunt hit him, plain as day, and choosing to just ignore that and fetishize the human element is ridiculous.
Adrian Beltre's hamstring strain is just about the first thing to go wrong for the Rangers this season. Word is that it isn't as bad as the injury that kept him out for a big chunk of last season, but it is still a reminder that it can't all be sunshine and happiness over the course of a season.
Phil Hughes has been thought of as a future rotation fixture ever since he almost no-hit the Rangers in his second big-league start in 2007. It's now 2012 and he's no closer to making good on that projection, which leads you to wonder how many more chances he's going to get to keep proving that a fast start doesn't guarantee much of anything.
Familiar Faces: Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, come on down. It will be interesting to see if they both get the customary round of boos at the Ballpark or if Rangers fans have become enlightened enough to understand that getting rid of them is directly related to the team that can't seem to stop winning. Our guess is no, which is really sad.