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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 White Sox have shown better for themselves than perhaps was expected so far, but they're coming off two straight losses to the Boston Red Sox, including one on Wednesday night that went 14 innings and saw Leury Garcia pitch and take the loss.
Past Meetings: The White Sox went 4-2 against the Rangers last year, winning two of three in both series.
Pitching Matchups: Friday — Martin Perez (2-0, 2.70 ERA) vs. Felipe Paulino (0-1, 7.98); Saturday — Colby Lewis (0-1, 6.75) vs. Jose Quintana (1-0, 2.37); Sunday — Robbie Ross Jr. (1-0, 1.00) vs. Erik Johnson (0-1, 6.35).
What's Hot: There aren't many hitters in baseball over the last week hotter than journeyman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who has taken over at third base for the injured Adrian Beltre and quickly become the Rangers' best hitter. Once Beltre's back, his at-bats will be greatly decreased, but right now, he's on fire, hitting .393 with five doubles and a homer over the last week. Leonys Martin has also found his stroke again, hitting .350 over the last week. Other than Joakim Soria, the Rangers' bullpen hasn't allowed a run in the last seven games.
Jose Quintana and Erik Johnson, who the Rangers face on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, have combined to give up two runs in their last 12 2/3 innings of work. Alexei Ramirez, the White Sox's versatile shortstop, has gotten off to a torrid start and is on a 16-game hittting streak dating back to last season. Texan Adam Dunn is also red-hot and can send a ball into the stands any time he makes contact.
What's Not: Despite a promising two-game stretch which saw Prince Fielder go 2-for-5 and then hit his first Rangers homer the next night, the slugger is still struggling, hitting just .167 over the last week with an on-base percentage of .355 thanks to his seven walks. Tanner Scheppers' season ERA is now approaching 10.00, and his days in the starting rotation have to be numbered after his latest bad outing on Thursday.
White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, a Cuban defector who signed with the White Sox this winter, has four home runs this year and was off to a great start before hitting a big-time slump over the last week. In his last six games, he's 1-for-21 with eight strikeouts.
Familiar Faces: Alex Rios was acquired post-deadline last year from the White Sox for prospect middle infielder Leury Garcia, who had to pitch in that 14-inning loss Wednesday night. Rangers reliever Neal Cotts pitched for the White Sox for four seasons, including 2005 when the club won the World Series over Houston. Former Rangers pitching prospect John Danks is pitching for the White Sox after the Rangers traded him for Brandon McCarthy several years back.