On Deck: Athletics

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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 A's are still owners of baseball's best record much to the chagrin of fans of the downtrodden Rangers and return to Arlington where they swept Texas in their last trip back in April.

Past 2014 Meetings: The A's hold a 5-4 series lead this season, but they've won five of the last six meetings after the Rangers took the first three of the season.

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Pitching Matchups: Friday — Jerome Williams (1-4, 6.04 ERA, first Rangers appearance) vs. Jason Hammel (0-2, 9.00); Saturday — Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.87) vs. Sonny Gray (11-3, 2.72); Sunday — Miles Mikolas (1-2, 7.58) vs. Scott Kazmir (11-3, 2.32).

What's Hot: Rougned Odor is 7-for-20 over his last six games and made a highlight-reel play in the field in Thursday's loss to field a ball at first base thrown from Colby Lewis on a bunt attempt. Leonys Martin is batting .333 over his last six games and has spectacular catches of his own in the past two games in The Bronx. Roman Mendez had another scoreless inning to keep his 0.00 ERA intact in what has been a great start to the young reliever's big-league career.

Yoenis Cespedes has heated up over the past week, hitting .381 with two homers and five RBIs, while Josh Donaldson is batting .316 with six RBIs in that same span. Gray and Kazmir are each coming off outings in which they allowed just one earned run and both are legitimate AL Cy Young contenders.

What's Not: Jerome Williams will be making his first start of the season and his first appearance for the Rangers after making 26 relief appearances for the Astros earlier this season before he was cut loose. In 10 1/3 innings as a starter for Triple-A Round Rock, Williams has allowed eight runs and is 0-1. Could be a long night on Friday.

Hammel has struggled since moving from the NL to the AL, as many pitchers will do. In his last start, he was rocked to the tune of six hits and five runs in two innings of work. Noted Rangers killer Coco Crisp is hitting a nice, crisp .105 over the last week.

Familiar Faces: Rangers infielder Adam Rosales has managed to stay with one organization this season as the Rangers and A's played hot potato with the veteran last year, sending him back and forth multiple times in a matter of a month or so. Former Rangers fan favorite Craig Gentry is now suiting up in green and gold after being traded to the A's over the winter for Michael Choice, whose big-league stint failed and is now in Triple-A.

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