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: Think the Rangers are spiraling downward? Well, you'd be right, but so are the Rays. Both teams seemed like locks to at least an a berth in the AL Wild Card Game, and now both teams are in danger of missing out on the postseason altogether.
Past 2013 Meetings: The Rangers took two of three games against the Rays in Arlington back in April, but a lot has changed since then.
Pitching Matchups: Monday — Matt Garza (9-5, 3.79 ERA; 3-4, 4.46 as Ranger) vs. Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.08); Tuesday — Nick Tepesch (4-6, 4.84) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (11-8, 5.04); Wednesday — Derek Holland (9-9, 3.40) vs. Chris Archer (9-7, 3.03); Thursday — Yu Darvish (12-9, 2.79) vs. Matt Moore (15-3, 3.11).
What's Hot: Adrian Beltre has heated back up the plate, but he's not back to producing with runners in scoring position yet, and that's killing the Rangers. Fair or not, the team is relying on Beltre, and he's coming through, hitting .375 over his last seven games but he has just two RBIs. Jim Adduci, who got the start on Sunday, could be playing his way into more playing time for the struggling Mitch Moreland (first base) and David Murphy (left field), as Adduci is hitting .444 in his last nine at-bats. Darvish is about as hot as a starting pitcher can be — going seven innings and giving up one run in each of his last two starts, but they've both been 1-0 losses.
Yuniel Escobar and rookie sensation Wil Myers are about the only thing the Rays' offense has going at the moment, as it could be in worse shape than the Rangers' is. Those two are hitting over .300 over the last week, and then it drops to Evan Longoria's .240 as far as regulars' averages over the past week. Archer, who is tied with Martin Perez for wins by a rookie pitcher (9), is coming off an outing that saw him throw six scoreless innings.
What's Not: It's hard to list them all, so we'll just go with "the majority of the Rangers hitters" here. In the last week, the Rangers' offense has seen a starting pitcher lose a 1-0 game, twice. The strikeouts are piling up (Mitch Moreland has nine) and worse, a lot of them are looking strikeouts with runners on base to end an inning, or even a game (David Murphy). There's no way around it, this thing is really ugly right now.
Hellickson and Cobb both had rough outings last week, as neither got out of the sixth inning and each allowed three earned runs. The Rays' offense is struggling just as bad as the Rangers' as guys like Ben Zobrist, James Loney and Desmond Jennings are all hovering around .200, while Zobrist is hitting .100 over the past week.
Familiar Faces: Matt Garza spent the majority of his career in Tampa before being dealt to the Chicago Cubs, and later to Texas. Garza won 34 games for the Rays over his three-year stint there and was the MVP of the ALCS in 2008 when he went 2-0 as the Rays topped the Red Sox.