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 floundering down the stretch but are still in position to be one of the two AL wild card teams, while the Rangers are looking to spoil that.

Past 2014 Meetings: The Rangers somehow have a winning record this year against Oakland, leading the season series 8-7 against the two-time defending AL West champs.

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Pitching Matchups: Thursday — Colby Lewis (10-14, 5.34 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (2-6, 4.52); Friday — Nick Tepesch (5-10, 4.14) vs. Scott Kazmir (14-9, 3.63); Saturday — Derek Holland (2-0, 1.31) vs. Jeff Samardzija (5-5, 2.92); Sunday — Nick Martinez (5-11, 4.61) vs. Sonny Gray (13-10, 3.21).

What's Hot: Ryan Rua has been more than the normal September call-up. He might just be playing himself on to the 2015 Rangers. In his last seven games, he's hitting .423 with two doubles, two homers and a team-high six RBIs in that time. Adrian Beltre is batting .360 with four doubles and four RBIs in that same time. Tepesch, Martinez and Holland are all pitching very well right now, as is the Rangers' bullpen.

The A's have just three regulars hitting better than .300 over the last week, led by outfielder Josh Reddick, who's carrying the A's offense with a .583 average in his last four games. Derek Norris is hitting .357 over his last six games and has four walks in that time. Samardzija picked up a win his last time out by allowing just one run over seven innings.

What's Not: Elvis Andrus is batting just .238 over the last week, during which time he's been given two days off. He did open the scoring in Wednesday night's win over Houston with an RBI double. Leonys Martin is closing on a cold note, hitting just .240 over the last week. Colby Lewis got lit up by the Angels his last time out, allowing seven earned runs on three homers in just five innings.

Kazmir gave up six runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings while striking out nine his last time out in an odd stat line. The A's team leader and best hitter, Josh Donaldson, is batting just .160 over the last week but did have a huge walk-off homer earlier this week.

Familiar Faces: Michael Choice and Craig Gentry, who were swapped for each other by these two teams are both injured and out for the year. Adam Rosales, who bounced back and forth between the teams last year and stuck with Texas, has been a nice surprise recently with a career year offensively. Geovany Soto is starting to see more time at catcher for the A's since being acquired for cash in August.

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