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On Deck: Orioles



    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 Baltimore Orioles have some of the most exciting players in the game in Adam Jones, Manny Machado and, of course, former Ranger Chris Davis, who's in the midst of a historic season as a Triple Crown contender.

    Past 2013 Meetings: This is the teams' first meeting of 2013, but the Rangers went 5-2 against the Orioles in 2012, including taking three of four games at Camden Yards in a series that featured Josh Hamilton's four-homer game.

    Pitching Matchups: Monday — Derek Holland (6-4, 3.13 ERA) vs. Scott Feldman (7-6, 3.43); Tuesday — Martin Perez (2-1, 1.85) vs. Zach Britton (2-2, 4.03); Wednesday — TBD vs. Miguel Gonzalez (6-3, 3.63); Thursday — Yu Darvish (8-4, 3.02) vs. Chris Tillman (10-3, 3.92).

    What's Hot: The Rangers lineup is starting to get hot, more than one piece at a time. Of course, playing the Houston Astros for three games can help with that, so take it with a grain of salt. But Adrian Beltre is on a torrid tear, hitting .478 with two doubles and four home runs over the last six games. Nelson Cruz has remained hot since taking over in the 3-hole, hitting .320 with a double and two homers in that same time. Ian Kinsler and Leonys Martin have idential 7-for-22 lines over the last six games. And don't look now, but the Rangers might have a new winning piece to their bullpen in Jason Frasor, who's pitching the best he has all year, giving up just one hit over his last three innings. Joe Nathan is just being Joe Nathan, and Joakim Soria had a great debut Sunday after a year and a half out of the game following Tommy John surgery.

    Nick Markakis is on a tear for the Orioles, in the midst of a 10-for-22 stretch over the past week but with has just one extra-base hit in that span. Former Rangers reliever Darren O'Day is 2-0 over the last week with a 0.00 ERA in relief, and Miguel Gonzalez is coming off a strong outing when he gave up one run on four hits in six innings of work.

    What's Not: The biggest concern over the past week has been the Rangers' winning pieces in the bullpen, minus Nathan, who's been great. Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and even the unflappable Neal Cotts have struggled mightily and it might just be an insane workload catching up to them — something the pending all-star break will hopefully help remedy along with the emergence of Frasor and the return of Soria. At the plate, Jurickson Profar continues his slide after a decent start following his call-up and Mitch Moreland is still trying to find his pre-DL swing since coming back from a hamstring injury.

    This might be the only time you can say this all season, but Chris Davis is actually in a slump. He has three hits in his last 21 at-bats. Of course, his three hits are two home runs and a double. All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy is 1-for-22 in the last week, and all-star center fielder Adam Jones is hitting just .250 over that same time. The Orioles lineup, as a whole, is a bit on a downturn.

    Familiar Faces: Where do we even begin? It seems since former Rangers manager Buck Showalter took over in Baltimore, the Orioles have been a place for Rangers cast-offs, and the thing is, most of those guys have gone to Baltimore and had varying levels of success. Here we go: Of course, Davis. Then there's O'Day, Tommy Hunter and Taylor Teagarden. They just acquired former Ranger pitcher Scott Feldman, who will start the series-opener, for former Ranger Pedro Strop.