On Deck: Rangers vs. Diamondbacks

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 2012 season.

The Opponent: The Arizona Diamondbacks might want to petition the league for the spot in the American League that the Astros will be taking next season. They've won five of six to start the interleague portion of their schedule, a record that has bumped the defending NL West champ's overall mark to 30-30.

Past 2012 Meetings: None and this is the only meeting of the year for the two teams. The Rangers are 15-7 against the Diamondbacks all time.

Pitching Matchups: Tuesday - Ian Kennedy (5-5, 3.93 ERA) vs. Colby Lewis (4-5, 3.38); Wednesday - Wade Miley (7-2, 2.53) vs. Matt Harrison (8-3, 3.87); Thursday - Daniel Hudson (2-1, 6.06) vs. Scott Feldman (0-5, 6.39)

What's Hot: Joe Nathan is frying bigger fish these days, but he's likely keeping one eye on his college's baseball team. The Stony Brook Seawolves are in the College World Series for the first time, giving them a nice line item for the program's history other than Nathan's professional exploits.

Jason Kubel looked a bit lost the last couple of years after the Twins moved outdoors to Target Field and a change of scenery has done him well. He's boosted his OPS by almost 80 points in the desert and the Diamondbacks, who are right around the league average of scoring, have needed every one of them.

The offense is getting some more help from Paul Goldschmidt. The first baseman is riding a 17-game hitting streak into this series, during which he's hitting .419. It's the first time the Rangers will get a look at Goldschmidt, who is in his second year, and they are going to get him at his best.

What's Not: They finished on an uptick in San Francisco, but the Rangers offense wasn't where it needed to be during the road trip. They hit .251 and scored just over three runs a game while hitting six homers in 10 games. They play 16 of 19 at home so they won't have travel to blame if the bats don't come to life.

Kubel and Goldschmidt have been great, but Arizona's chances of returning to the playoffs will hinge on Justin Upton's ability to get going. He posted a monster season as a 23-year-old in 2011 and looked like a perennial MVP candidate in the making. He's nowhere close to one this season, leaving the Diamondbacks short at the plate. 

Maybe getting Feldman out of the Bay Area will do him some good. He got strafed on both sides of the Bay Bridge, although any hopes should be tempered by the fact that he's getting strafed on both sides of every bridge these days.

Familiar Faces: No former Rangers have made their way to Arizona, although you'll know plenty of the faces in Diamondbacks uniforms. From former AL West foes (Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow, Brad Ziegler, Joe Saunders, J.J. Putz, Willie Bloomquist) to guys who have been around forever (Henry Blanco, John McDonald, Willie Bloomquist), the Diamondbacks will seem like you play them every year.

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