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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Weekly AL West Roundup, Week 10

The Rangers distance themselves from the pack thanks to another dominant run against their division rivals in Seattle and Houston.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oh how things can change in a week. With the Rangers continued dominance over the rest of the AL West on full display over the past week the standings are starting to present a truly bleak sight for anyone outside of Arlington.

AL West Current Standings

Team

Wins

Losses

GB

Texas

39

24

-

Seattle

34

29

5

Houston

30

35

10

Los Angeles

27

36

12

Oakland

26

36

12.5


Seattle continued their slow decent back toward .500, but the gap is widening quickly as the Mariners continue to struggle against the Rangers. On a similar note, the Astros took a step back after a couple of promising weeks. While Seattle and Houston stumbled backward, Oakland and Los Angeles accelerated their race to the basement in what is quickly becoming the most interesting divisional battle.

Now for our weekly trip around the division to catch up on the happenings for each team in the AL West:

1. Texas Rangers (5-2)

The Rangers had another strong week overcoming injuries and sloppy fielding to post another winning week taking three of four against Houston and two of three in Seattle.

The week started with two more one run wins over the Astros in what has become a theme this season. From there things got a little hairy with the Rangers dropping game three of the series 3-1. The loss was the Rangers first in the season series with Houston, but bigger news for Texas were the early exits by Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre. Currently, Darvish is slated to miss his next start due to shoulder/neck tightness. Beltre’s status is similarly hazy at the moment with a tight hamstring. No decision has been made on a DL stint, but Beltre has now missed four straight games. The Rangers rebounded to take game four against the Astros and push the season series to 9-1.

After taking care of the Astros, the Rangers headed to Seattle where they dropped the first game before rebounding to take the weekend series. Over the week, the Rangers did it with pitching holding opponents to three or fewer in five of seven games and the Rangers did it with hitting scoring five or more in four of seven. On the other hand, the Rangers struggled in the field committing nine errors on the week and only completing two clean games. It is going to be hard to keep winning games at their current clip if the errors continue to stack up at such a high rate.

On a historical note, Cole Hamels picked up his 2,000th career strikeout this weekend against Seattle. Hamels reached the milestone with a third inning strikeout of Leonys Martin.

In the upcoming week, the Rangers continue their current road trip with four in Oakland and three in St Louis before finally heading home. The ten game road trip is the longest of the season for the Rangers.

2. Seattle Mariners (3-4)

As stated above, Seattle continues to slowly drift back toward .500 due in large part to what has become a painful weekend trend. Over the course of the last three weeks the Mariners have stormed out of the gate with series wins or at least in this case a series split before faltering over the weekend. The last three weeks have seen the Mariners post a 1-8 record from Friday through Sunday. The last two weeks have come against a challenging out in the division leading Rangers, but May 27-29th saw the Mariners swept at the hands of the Minnesota Twins.

Looking a little deeper into the week, the Mariners pitching seems to have settled down posting a 2.89 ERA over their last seven games. The staff success this past week was highlighted by shutout performances from James Paxton and Taijuan Walker as well as quality starts from Wade Miley and Hisashi Iwakuma. The bullpen has not been as sharp as the rotation, posting a 5.68 ERA so far in June. The bullpen struggles were highlighted in Saturday's 2-1 extra inning loss to Texas. In the game, Steve Chisek surrendered a game tying homerun to Prince Fielder in the ninth before Mike Montgomery gave up the game winning homerun to Rougned Odor in the eleventh.

Looking forward, the Mariners will head out on the road this week to face the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox in three game sets. Boston will present a tough challenge for the Mariners who will be looking to turn their weekend losing streak around.

3. Houston Astros (2-5)

The Astros fumbled a prime opportunity to make up some ground dropping three of four in Arlington before heading to Tampa Bay and losing two of three. In what is becoming typical Astros fashion, the week started off with six straight games decided by two or fewer runs.

The Astros came out on the losing end of two one run games to start the week dropping games 6-5 and 4-3 in Arlington. The Astros broke through though on Wednesday taking game three 3-1 and finally breaking the streak against the Rangers. Sadly the results didn’t carry over as the Astros quickly reverted to their losing ways dropping game four by a score of 5-3. I would dig deeper into the stats and how it happened, but let’s be honest it is getting really old talking about losing games to the Rangers.

So, moving on the Tampa Bay series the Astros continued their string of close games trading 4-3 games with the Rays Friday and Saturday. Sunday was a slightly different story. Sunday’s game had the early feel of a good old fashioned pitching duel as Dallas Keuchel and Matt Moore traded zeroes through four and a half innings, but then the wheels fell off for Keuchel. Keuchel surrendered five runs, four of which were earned in the bottom of the fifth. Moore did not return the favor continuing to put zeroes on the board through seven before turning it over to the bullpen where Enny Romero and Tyler Sturdevant combined for two more shutout innings to close the door.

Heading into the next week, the Astros will look to salvage their road trip with two in St Louis before heading home to the comforts of Minute Maid Park for a weekend series against the Reds.

4. Los Angeles Angels (1-6)

It was quite a week for the Angels and not in a good way. The Angels only managed to score more than three runs once in seven games. To make matters worse, the Angels gave up six or more in five games. When the dust settled and all was said and done, the Angels were outscored on the week 46-23.

Swept in New York by the Yankees in a four game set before dropping two at home against Cleveland, not a lot of positives can be derived from the week. Nonetheless, lets take a closer look at a couple of items from the Cleveland series.

The Angels lost the opener in Cleveland to push their losing streak to five. Game two looked like an easy win, as the Angels headed to the ninth up 3-0, but after a rough ninth inning by Houston Street the game was tied. Luckily, Yunel Escobar helped the Angels regain the lead, lining a game winning single in the bottom of the ninth to snap the losing streak. Game three was more of the same though as the Angels were handled easily in a 6-1 loss. To add insult to injury Mike Trout left the game Sunday in the bottom of the eighth after being hit by a pitch from reliever Tommy Hunter. Angels fans can breathe a sigh of relief as x-rays came back negative and Trout is expected to play Monday night.

Heading into week eleven, the Angles have an opportunity to snap back with a home series against Minnesota before heading to Oakland for three more in our series of the week. Neither Minnesota nor Oakland have been especially impressive this year, so the Angles may be able to put together a strong week for a change. Before anyone gets too excited though, the Twins who are 19-43 on the year have had success against the Angles already this year claiming a sweep in Minnesota in April.

5. Oakland A’s (1-4)

In what was supposed to be an opportune week to pick up a game or two on the division leaders Oakland continued to fade into 2016 irrelevance. With the top of the division set to face off all week and the Athletics headed to take on the weaker half of the NL Central things looked good. Things are not always as they seem, though. Oakland quickly dropped a two game set in Milwaukee before heading to Cincinnati to much the same result. The Athletics dropped the opening two against the Reds by matching 2-1 scores before finally snapping what had grown to a seven game skid by salvaging a win on Sunday.

In Sunday’s win the Athletics were able to match their run production from the rest of the week at six. On the week Oakland only managed to hit for a .238/.294/.372 slash line. Hard to win games with that kind of production. The pitching staff saw Sony Gray produce a second encouraging outing following his return from the DL as he managed to go 7 2/3 innings only giving up two runs. Further, Daniel Mengden made his major league debut for the club with a start on Saturday. Mendgen pitched well, but definitely still has some wrinkles to work out (more details in the pitching matchups below).

The upcoming week has Oakland staying in the division with a four game series set to kick off against the Rangers Monday night before the Athletics welcome the Angles to town for a weekend three game series. If Oakland doesn’t find a way to get out of their recent funk, they will find themselves alone in the AL West basement in next week’s recap.

Down on the Farm:

Since the draft happened over the past week and the College World Series is getting ready to kick off I thought we would highlight some players to watch in Omaha. Lets take a quick look at which of the AL West draftees are still alive in the college baseball playoffs. Note that this list is not in any way trying to predict which of these players will sign or if anyone will choose to go back to school.

Of particular interest is the fact that Texas does not have any prospects left due to their high risk, high upside strategy of taking primarily high school players early in the draft. Also, the top two on this list are teammates with the Florida Gators, who still have to win one more time this evening in order to punch their College World Series ticket.

Series to Watch:

Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics – Friday, June 17th – Sunday, June 19th

As I alluded to in the opening, the most riveting race at the moment is not the one for the division crown, but in a race headed in the opposite direction. The Angels and A’s have both struggled mightily for the majority of the season and are currently separated by only half a game at the bottom of the AL West. The primary issue for both teams has been pitching, as the Angeles and Athletics sit at 25th and 26th respectively in team ERA. They have also experienced varying levels of ineptitude on offense as well as both sit in the bottom half of the league in runs scored. So tune in to find out who will find themselves at the bottom of the barrel after ten weeks of 2016.

Pitching Matchups:

Colby Lewis (5-0) at Daniel Mengden (0-1) – Thursday, June 16th

On an Astros off day, you can tune in and watch a former Astros draft pick make the second start of his young career. With a matchup against division leading Texas, Mengden will have his work cut out for him, but he has shown promise in the upper minors this year and handled himself well enough in his MLB debut this past weekend. Mengden made his debut against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday and pitched to the tune of 5 2/3 innings giving up two runs and racking up five strikeouts. Mengden did surrender four walks and gave up a two run homerun to Jay Bruce, so there are definitely areas where he can improve, but all in all he handled himself well.

Tim Lincecum (0-0) at Sean Manaea (2-4) – Saturday, June 19th

This matchup is all about Tim Lincecum, so sorry Sean Manaea fans. At the age of 32, Lincecum has looked strong in two minor league starts, pitching to a 2.65 ERA over 17 innings. Lincecum has struggled in recent years, failing to register an ERA under four in any of the last four seasons. Look for Lincecum to make a strong impression on Angles fans with a solid matchup against an offensively challenged Athletics squad.

Taijuan Walker (3-6) at David Price (7-2) – Sunday, June 20th


Finally, Walker got back on track with an impressive eight inning shutout outing against Seattle. Over his eight innings, Walker racked up 11 strikeouts and zero walks.  Walker now sits with a season ERA of 3.48. The Mariners will need Walker to bring his A game if they want to compete in this one, as they prepare to head to Fenway to take on the offensive juggernaut that is the 2016 Boston Red Sox. On top of the potent offense, the Mariners will be facing a true ace in David Price. Price struggled a little early in the year, but pitched to a 3.30 ERA in May and is off to an even stronger June with a 2.00 ERA in two June starts.

*Pitching matchups are based on current projections from ESPN.com