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On Deck: Rays at Rangers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    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 Rays and Rangers decided to take a break from their burgeoning playoff rivalry in 2012. Tampa didn't make it to the playoffs and the Rangers were gone after just one game, which made for a lot of disappointment in two organizations that have been roundly praised for what they've built. This series won't mean as much, but we'll get a chance to see how the rebound effort is progressing in Tampa. 

    Past 2013 Meetings: None, yet. The Rays won the series 5-4 last season, though, and that's one of the reasons why the Rangers had to play that winner take all game to start (and end) their playoff appearance. 

    Pitching Matchups: Monday - Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 7.11 ERA) vs. Alexi Ogando (1-0, 0.00); Tuesday - Roberto Hernandez (0-1, 5.40) vs. Nick Tepesch (Major League debut); Wednesday - Matt Moore (1-0, 0.00) vs. Derek Holland (0-0, 2.57)

    What's Hot: Ogando and Moore turned in two of the most impressive starts of the first week of the regular season, making it interesting to see if they can keep it going for a second start in a row. It would be huge for each team if they can. Moore can join David Price to give the Rays a pair of elite lefties and Ogando would be a big boost for a rotation that's a bit up in the air after Yu Darvish.

    There's something inherently fascinating about seeing a pitcher make his big league debut as a starter. Everything is in front of the player and you have no idea what path his career will take, only that you might be watching an All-Star take his first steps at the highest level. All of which makes Tepesch's start on Tuesday night more interesting that your average start by the fifth man in a rotation. 

    It's just six games, but that's a bit more like the Nelson Cruz we remember from 2010 and 2011. Cruz's dismal 2012 season was largely ignored because of the Josh Hamilton-centric coverage of the season, but there might have been less reason to rip Hamilton to shreds last weekend if Cruz had actually hit. 

    What's Not: Speaking of Hamilton's visit, let's hope that's the end of the ugliness on all sides. Whether or not Hamilton used an obscene gesture, he didn't come across looking good after getting a predictably frosty reception from Rangers fans. And those fans didn't distinguish themselves by booing a player who they wanted gone by the time last season ended. You don't like that he said it's a football town? Show him what a classy baseball town it is and honor what Hamilton did for the Rangers instead of sinking to the lowest common denominator. 

    It's just six games, but that's still not the Mitch Moreland anyone hoped would develop after he landed on the scene a couple of years ago. The patience for that player to arrive will run out at some point. 

    The Rays traded James Shields to the Royals this offseason for the uber-hyped young outfielder Wil Myers. Myers is currently sitting in Triple-A, waiting for enough time to pass so that he won't hit arbitration a year early thanks to copious amounts of service time. The fact that the Rays are still pinching pennies in a league flush with cash really makes you wonder how long this Tampa charade can continue without an actual stadium.  

    Familiar Faces: When Jamey Wright posted a 5.12 ERA in 75 appearances for the Rangers as a 33-year-old in 2008, there probably weren't too many people expecting that his baseball career would last into the second term of the president elected that November. Wright's coming out of the pen for the Rays, though, and showing no signs of shuffling out of the league just yet.