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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
W2W4: Rangers vs. Cubs

By Todd Wills

The Rangers will visit Wrigley Field for the first time since 2002 as they start a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

A scuffling Rangers' offense will be challenged by three quality Cubs starters and brisk and rainy weather in Chicago. Here are some things to watch for:

PODCAST
Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his thoughts on the tragedy in Boston, Lance Berkman's comments about Wrigley Field and the absence of the Rangers' bats early in the season.

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No Berkman: The Rangers' leading hitter, Lance Berkman, isn't expected to play in the field during the three-game series, making him available only as a pinch hitter with National League rules in place. Berkman is batting .389 with a .500 on-base percentage this season, so he'll be missed. Manager Ron Washington said Sunday that the cold weather factored into the decision. Berkman, who has not played in the field this season, is coming off two knee surgeries.

Cubs struggling, too: The Rangers aren't the only team struggling at the plate. The Cubs enter Tuesday hitless in their last 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position. They are averaging five runs per game at Wrigley this season and just lost three out of four games to the San Francisco Giants.

Forecast worsens: There's only a slight chance of rain for Tuesday night's series opener, but according to weather.com it's almost a lock that things will be wet Wednesday and Thursday. There's a 100 percent chance for rain in Chicago for Wednesday and 90 percent for Thursday with a 1:20 p.m. day game scheduled. The Rangers don't return to Chicago to play the Cubs this season.

Where's the power?: The Rangers have 12 home runs in 13 games, which is almost half as many as they had last year when they were at 23 home runs at this point. Don't expect that to change at Wrigley. It's known to be a home run ballpark, but not in April when Wrigley typically plays as a pitcher's park.

Samardzija brings it: The Rangers will face a difficult test Thursday afternoon against Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija, one of the National League's most electric pitchers. Samardzija has a 2.75 ERA with a 1-2 record to show for it. The Cubs power pitcher has 27 strikeouts, second in the major leagues behind the Rangers' Yu Darvish, who has 28 Ks. His fastball averaged 95.1 mph last year and he's at 95.0 this season. Samardzija hasn't allowed a home run in 19 2/3 innings.