On Deck: Tampa Bay Rays

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 2015 season. 

The Opponent: The Rays were fading just after the all-star break but have since picked up their play and won four straight to move within two games of the second wild card spot — a game-and-a-half up on Texas.

Past 2015 Meetings: The teams split a four-game set back in May in Tampa with the Rangers winning the first and last games of the series in one-run fashion.

Pitching Matchups: Friday — Martin Perez (1-2, 5.81 ERA) vs. Nathan Karns (7-5, 3.52); Saturday — Colby Lewis (12-5, 4.61) vs. Chris Archer (10-8, 2.62); Sunday — Yovani Gallardo (8-9, 3.33) vs. TBD.

What's Hot: Mitch Moreland drove in four runs and went 4-for-4 on Thursday to lead the Rangers to a pivotal comeback win. He's batting .409 over his last six games. Rougned Odor is hitting .348 in the same span, and Prince Fielder is starting to heat up again, batting at a .333 clip with a homer and five RBIs. The Rangers' pitching is going pretty well, as all three starters for the weekend are coming off good outings and the bullpen is pitching well, too.

Rays shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .444 over his last five games while Grady Sizemore is hitting .316 with three homers in his last five. Like the Rangers' bullpen, the Rays' pen hasn't allowed much in the way of runs over the last week. Chris Archer is coming off a quality start with 10 strikeouts in six innings of work.

What's Not: Mike Napoli has five at-bats in his second Rangers tenure so far, and no hits to show for it. He'll only start against lefties and then will be used as a pinch-hitting candidate late in games against lefty relievers. Elvis Andrus is hitting .182 in his last six games, but did have the game-winning RBI on a sac fly on Thursday.

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Karns allowed four runs in five innings of work his last time out. The ever-dangerous Evan Longoria is hitting just .250 over his last five games with six strikeouts.

Familiar Faces: Rangers catcher Bobby Wilson was claimed off waivers from the Rays a few weeks ago and has had a nice little run as a platoon catcher while Robinson Chirinos is on the disabled list. Former Rangers career minor leaguer Joey Butler is a fourth outfielder for the Rays.

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