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 Detroit Tigers are treading water right now, but they're still the first-place Detroit Tigers, as they sit atop the AL Central with a small lead over the upstart Cleveland Indians and the equally surprising Kansas City Royals. The odd thing here is that six of the Tigers' last seven wins have come against, you guessed it, the Houston Astros! The Tigers lost series to Washington and Cleveland in that span and now head to Arlington to face the American League's best team.
Past 2013 Meetings: The teams haven't met this season, but in 2012, the Rangers won four of six meetings, winning both series 2-1 — one in Detroit and one in Arlington. Of course, in the 2011 ALCS, the Rangers topped the Tigers in six games.
Pitching Matchups: Thursday — Yu Darvish (6-1, 2.73 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (4-3, 1.93); Friday — Nick Tepesch (3-3, 4.03) vs. Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.68); Saturday — Justin Grimm (2-3, 4.28) vs. Anibal Sanchez (4-3, 2.05); Sunday — Derek Holland (3-2, 2.93) vs. Doug Fister (5-1, 3.06).
What's Hot: After getting off to a rough start over the first month of the season, Adrian Beltre has caught fire and resembled the guy that finished third in the AL MVP voting last year behind Cabrera and Mike Trout. Over the past six games, he's hitting .407 with three home runs, seven RBIs and three doubles. Mitch Moreland is still red-hot, highlighted by his two home runs on Tuesday night, and David Murphy is starting to come around, hitting .357 over his last six games.
Over the last week, the Tigers' offense has been paced by shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Triple Crown winner and defending AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, who are hitting .471 and .323, respectively, over the past seven games. Peralta has scored 10 runs in that span. On the hill, it doesn't get much tougher than the Tigers' starting staff, which has been led by, of course, Verlander, and also Sanchez. The Rangers will, however, miss the Tigers' No. 2 starter and strikeout extraordinare Max Scherzer.
What's Not: Ian Kinsler is having a rough week after being good for the entire season. He's still the team's leading hitter on the season but is hitting just .182 over the last week. Nelson Cruz is hitting just .222 over that span but has some huge hits over the past two games, so it's hard to rail on him too hard.
Two of the Tigers' top hitters this season, DFW resident Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder, are in a cooling period right now, and Denton native Austin Jackson just hit the disabled list after getting off to a hot start. Hunter is hitting .194, while Fielder is hitting .154 over the past week.
Familiar Faces: Joaquin Benoit has been a key piece of the Tigers' bullpen now for years and is a former Rangers starter and reliever.