On Deck: Rangers at White Sox

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: Robin Ventura is either a natural manager or he is out to give lie to the idea that there's much more to managing than getting strong performances from your best players. The White Sox have gotten bounce-back years from several players and they sit in first place as a result of that good fortune.

Past 2012 Meetings: The Rangers spoiled Ventura's managerial debut in April by taking two of three at home. At least they didn't add insult to injury by playing the video of Nolan Ryan tuning up Ventura during a one-sided fight at the mound.

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Pitching Matchups: Tuesday - Roy Oswalt (2-0, 4.26 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (9-2, 2.27); Wednesday - Scott Feldman (2-6, 6.13) vs. Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 4.50); Thursday - Matt Harrison (11-3, 3.16) vs. Jose Quintana (3-1, 2.19)

What's Hot: Seven All-Stars for the Rangers with an eighth likely to come when Yu Darvish wins the voting for the final spot. That's a new record for the franchise, one that many probably never saw coming during the franchise's darkest days. Those days are long gone and the new normal for the Rangers has been established at a very high level.

The White Sox rebounds referred to up top are best illustrated by Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy. Dunn's first year in Chicago was one of the worst offensive seasons since color was added to television, but he's back to being a dangerous hitter thanks to rediscovering his power and patience. Peavy spent the last two years looking like a journeyman. He looks like an All-Star this season, though, and teams with Sale to give the Sox an enviable 1-2 punch at the front of the rotation.

Josh Hamilton skipping the Home Run Derby seems like a shame on the surface, but a little more thought reveals that he should never take part in one again. Why spoil the image of that night in Yankee Stadium with another try? After all, Michelangelo only painted one Sistine Chapel.

What's Not: The Rangers' success over the last few seasons has made them one of the leading lights of the American League, but it has also opened up the door to the ridiculous expectations games that get played in Boston and New York. Case in point is this article about the Rangers' "dangerous" reliance on the big inning because clearly it is better to just score one run an inning even if the opportunity exists to score more often.

Paul Konerko is having a spectacular year, but the rest of the White Sox infield is not good enough to help keep the team in first place the rest of the way. The Kevin Youkilis trade was a step in the right direction, but they still might need more to keep ahead of the pack down the stretch.

Oswalt was shaky as could be in his win against the Tigers last week, his first outing against decent competition this season. A better job this time out would buoy confidence that he'll be a bit more than a placeholder this season.

Familiar Faces: John Danks is hurt, which is part of the reason why the White Sox are getting a look at Axelrod and Quintana this week. Usually, Danks is a reminder that not every trade works out well for the Rangers, but we're spared any such talk this time around.

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