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On Deck: Royals



    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 Royals have been poised to do what they're doing this year a few years now. But now, everything's coming together for the downtrodden club. At just three games back of the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card hunt, a three-game home sweep of the Rangers would put them at the forefront of the race as one of baseball's youngest teams. The Royals also get to throw their top pitchers this weekend against the back three of the Rangers' rotation.

    Past 2013 Meetings: The Rangers have taken two of three from the Royals this year, winning a three-game set in Arlington over the first weekend of June.

    Pitching Matchups: Friday — Martin Perez (9-5, 3.53 ERA) vs. Ervin Santana (9-9, 3.23); Saturday — Matt Garza (9-6, 4.06; 3-5, 4.94 as Ranger) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (14-11, 4.08); Sunday — Alexi Ogando (7-4, 3.15) vs. James Shields (12-9, 3.33).

    What's Hot: Wow, Elvis Andrus is becoming a regular Adrian Beltre, as he now has 15 RBIs in 13 September games. Over the last seven games, he has eight RBIs and two homers to give him three long balls this month after hitting just one over the first five months of the season. Andrus has been trending upward since the all-star break, but Mitch Moreland is starting to heat up at just the right time. The lefty was in the lineup against a lefty starter on Thursday and bombed Matt Moore. And look out for Alexi Ogando, he could be pitching his way back into the rotation, even come playoff time.

    The Royals are in a no-power slump like the Rangers were with just one home run in the last week, but several guys are getting on base. Catcher Salvador Perez is hitting .409 with a team-high six RBIs over that time off two doubles and a triple. Billy Butler and Alcides Escobar are also carrying the Royals' offense.

    What's Not: Matt Garza was brought here to solidify the rotation with a guy that has been a proven beast in the postseason. But he better start getting into gear soon, as he's gotten progressively worse with each start he makes in a Rangers uniform. His last time out against Oakland, he gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

    The Royals don't really have any ice-cold bats at the moment. There's guys like Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer who are hitting in the .270s and .280s over the last week, and all three of the Royals' starters this weekend have been good. Really nothing of note here for the Roayls, and that's a bad thing for the Rangers.

    Familiar Faces: The Surprise, Ariz., bunkmates at spring training don't have too many crossover guys, but the Rangers did bring in free agent reliever Joakim Soria this winter with hopes he'd find his old self after missing more than a year following Tommy John surgery. He's starting to show what made him a 40-plus save guy for the Royals and a multi-time MLB all-star with the Royals.