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 2014 season.
The Opponent: The Rangers and Rays were the only two teams in baseball with four straight 90-win seasons heading into 2014. Now, neither will come close to the benchmark as they've been derailed in 2014.
Past 2014 Meetings: The Rays took two of three from the Rangers in the opening week of the season in Tampa.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Colby Lewis (8-8, 5.50 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (0-1, 5.06); Tuesday — Nick Tepesch (4-7, 4.46) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.61); Wednesday — Miles Mikolas (1-4, 6.57) vs. Chris Archer (7-6, 3.33); Thursday — Yu Darvish (10-7, 3.06) vs. Jake Odorizzi (8-9, 3.89).
What's Hot: Adam Rosales hasn't started every game over the past week, but he's made a big splash in his limited opportunities. In those four games, he's hitting .500 with five runs, a double, two homers and five RBIs. Shin-Soo Choo, who's struggled for months now, is starting to heat up as the offseason acquisition is batting .400 with two doubles and two homers in his last six games. Colby Lewis owns a good career history against the Rays — mostly in the postseason — and is coming in on the heels of one of the best starts of his career, a complete-game shutout of the White Sox last week.
Tampa Bay veteran utility man Ben Zobrist has been their hottest hitter over the past week, hitting .375 with four doubles. Archer, Hellickson and Odorizzi combined to allow just two runs in their previous starts.
What's Not: Yu Darvish, who used to own the Astros and threaten a no-hitter in seemingly every start against them, is suddenly being overmatched by them. In Saturday's game, Darvish allowed five earned runs on nine hits in four innings of work. Leonys Martin is in the midst of a 1-for-15 skid.
Closer Grant Balfour, who rejoined the Rays this offseason after a successful run with Oakland, has allowed three walks and four runs in his last 2 1/3 innings of work. Rays superstar third baseman Evan Longoria is batting just .154 with a homer and three RBIs in his last six games.
Familiar Faces: One of the pleasant surprises of this season for Texas has been the emergence of catcher Robinson Chirinos, especially with his ability to throw out would-be base stealers. Chirinos made his big-league debut with Tampa Bay in 2011, playing 20 games after spending 10 seasons in the minors without a big-league appearance.