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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Weekly AL West Roundup, Week 12

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The Astros climb back to a winning record, but Texas keeps their distance with another winning week.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros passed the Mariners to move into sole possession of second place, while the Angels stumbled back down into a virtual tie at the bottom of the division with Oakland. Texas continues to have a strangle hold on the top spot with a ten game cushion.

AL West Current Standings

Team

Wins

Losses

GB

Texas

49

27

-

Houston

39

37

10

Seattle

38

38

11

Oakland

32

43

16.5

Los Angeles

32

44

17


For the first time in weeks, the division saw some movement as the standings were shaken up. The Mariners and Astros both continued month long trends that finally saw Houston cross both the .500 mark and pass the Mariners. At the bottom of the barrel, the Athletics finally grabbed a winning week, the first time they have accomplished that since April.

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

1. Texas Rangers (4-2)

The make-up game with Baltimore ended with another one run Texas lead. The Rangers fell behind 3-0 early, but fought back as they have often done to win the game 4-3. The win made it four straight wins by one run.

The Cincinnati Reds then came to town for two and apparently were unfazed by the apparent gap in talent between the two teams as they jumped on Colby Lewis and never looked back. The Reds struck for a three run first inning behind a jay Bruce home run and ultimately took game one 8-2. To make matters worse Lewis left the game after five innings with cramping in his right arm and is now expected to miss up to two months of action joining Derek Holland and Yu Darvish on the DL. Game two saw Cole Hamels lock things down for the Rangers and get them back on a winning track forcing the split.

Picked for last week’s series of the week, game on of the Boston-Texas series sure did not disappoint. The Rangers knocked around David Price, jumping out to a 6-0 lead and taking a relatively safe 7-4 lead into the ninth inning. Here is how the ninth inning played out:

  • Jackie Bradley Jr. walks to open the inning.
  • Jake Diekman fights back to get the next two batters, leaving the Rangers one out away.
  • Backup catcher Sandy Leon doubles to deep left following a long at bat, scoring Bradley to make the score 7-5.
  • Matt Bush relieved Diekman still needing only one out.
  • Mookie Betts hits a monster homerun to center field (426 ft). Tie game, Rangers announcers start talking about walking it off in the bottom of the frame.
  • Dustin Pedroia walks
  • Xander Bogaerts singles pushing Pedroia to third base. With the winning run only 90 ft away, none other than David Ortiz walks to the plate. How is he always up in these situations? I mean come on…
  • Pedroia scores on a wild pitch and Ortiz promptly flies out harmlessly the damage already done.
  • Koji Uehara comes in to record a dominant final frame striking out the side all swinging.

As they have done all year, the Rangers bounced back quickly taking the final two games of the series by scores of 10-3 and 6-2. The Rangers are now tied with the San Francisco Giants for the most wins in baseball and only .004 behind the cubs for the best winning percentage.

Up next the Rangers head to New York for four games against the Yankees and then drop by Minneapolis to face the Twins for a three game weekend set.

2. Houston Astros (5-1)

Man if only April had never happened...

The Astros posted another strong week, their fourth winning week in the last five thanks to a sweep of the Angels and an offensive explosion in Kansas City.

Starting with the sweep against Los Angeles the Astros grabbed games two and three by identical 3-2 scores. Game 2 was won on two run walk off single by Carlos Correa in the ninth. Game 3 had a little less drama, as the Astros won thanks to a tie breaking RBI triple from Marwin Gonzalez in the eighth.

In case you missed it, the first two games in KC were fun.

Friday, the Astros scored nine in first and tagged Edison Volquez for 12 in only 1 IP. Of note George Springer led things off with a triple and launched a grand slam all in the 1st inning. The Astros went on to win 13-4 and Springer finished a double shy of the cycle.

Saturday was much of the same, as the Astros again erupted early going off for seven in the second inning. The Astros would go on to win by a score of 13-5. Altuve would be the one to miss the cycle this time falling a triple shy after tripping on his way around second base in the sixth inning.

Game 3 saw the Astros come back to earth and have their seven game winning streak snapped thanks to Ian Kennedy pitching seven innings of one run ball while striking out 11 Astros.

AJ Reed made his debut Saturday and proceeded to go 0-5 over the course of two games, walking twice and striking out three times. Reed put together a couple of really solid at bats, but will go into week 13 still searching for his first major league hit. 

Up next the Astros head to Los Angeles for three games with the Angeles before returning home to welcome the Chicago White Sox to town for a weekend series.

3. Seattle Mariners (2-5)

About the only thing that could have made the Detroit Tigers four game sweep of the Mariners worse would have been if it was at home...

Book-ended by extra inning walk off losses, the series started with an 8-7 twelve inning loss. The Tigers walked off on a Justin Upton 12th inning home run, his second of the game. The most impressive home run of the day, though, came in the first inning as Miguel Cabrera unloaded on a pitch sending it 461 feet and completely out of Comerica Park. Game two and three were pretty run of the mill losses, with the Mariners losing 6-2 and 5-3 respectively. The final game of the series on the other hand rivaled Texas’s game one struggles against Boston. After the offense fought back to force extra innings, the Seattle bullpen loaded the bases thanks to two walks (one intentional) before allowing Cameron Maybin to score the walk off on a wild pitch…ouch!

The Mariners returned home looking for a little redemption and needing a win to get back to .500. With the Cardinals in town it didn’t look likely for much of the night Friday, but Adam Lind came through big time with a ninth inning three run walk off home run. Saturday’s game required another comeback, but the Mariners got to work earlier using a three run fifth inning to claim another one run win.With the loss, St. Louis moved to 0-7 against the AL West in June (they are 11-3 against the rest of the league).

Needless to say the Cardinals may have been a little frustrated with all the recent close losses. Sunday’s game three saw the Cardinals erupt and take out their frustration on poor James Paxton and an overworked Mariners bullpen. St. Louis launched six home runs on the game, at Safeco no less, to win the game 11-6. Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham each homered twice, while Jedd Gyorko and Matt Holliday added home runs of their own.

After an up and down week and an up and down season to this point the Mariners sit at 38-38. Seattle will have a tough task next week looking to get back over .500 as they welcome Pittsburgh to town for two games before AL East leading Baltimore visits for four games.  

4. Oakland A’s (4-2)

It had been eight weeks since Oakland had laid claim to a winning week, but finally in week 12 the A’s came through. The week opened at home in the Coliseum as the Milwaukee Brewers came to town. Game one was a tightly contested game tied heading into the fifth, but a two run triple by Marcus Semien in the seventh broke the deadlock and ultimately gave Oakland the win. Game two didn’t go as well, as the Athletics lost 4-2.

Next up was a four game set in Los Angeles against the division rival Angels. In round two of what I have been referring to as the battle for the basement, Oakland got revenge. After dropping two of three at home last week, Oakland came in to Los Angeles this weekend and took three of four to even the score. Oakland still trails the season series 4-6, but this is progress they will gladly take.

Breaking it down a little further, the Athletics used a four run second inning to stake a hold on game one. Kris Davis added a fifth inning solo home run that ultimately proved the difference. The Angels mounted a late comeback scoring two in the ninth, but the A’s came out on top 5-4.

Kris Davis did it again in game two breaking a 4-4 tie with a three run home run in the eighth. The left fielder has been having a really solid year for Oakland with 18 home runs and 50 RBIs to his name already.

Game three saw Dillon Overton make his major league debut for the Athletics. Overton handled himself well going 5 2/3 innings giving up three runs and striking out three on the way to a win.

The final game of the week and of the series saw the magic run out for Oakland. After jumping out to an early lead thanks to a five run fourth inning the Athletics watched as Los Angeles slowly chipped away at the lead scoring two in the seventh, two in the eighth and finally one in the ninth. Jefry Marte and Mike Trout combined for the final run to give the Angels the walk off win. Trout led off the inning with a single, a Pujols single and Giavotella walk loaded the bases pushing Trout to third and finally Marte brought him home with a game winning sacrifice fly.

Oakland has a tough week ahead of them as they will play a home and away four game set with the San Francisco Giants, winners of 13 of their last 15, before welcoming the Pirates to town for the weekend.

5. Los Angeles Angels (1-6)

Let’s make this one quick, week 12 was a rather forgettable week for the Angels as they lost six of seven against division rivals. Both the three game sweep by the Astros and series loss to the Athletics are broken down above, so I will not make Angels fans suffer through a second telling of the details.

One note that I do want to make is in regard to Angels slugger Albert Pujols. Pujols’s tied Harmon Killebrew for 11th all-time on the career home run list with a first inning home run Friday night. Not wanting to stop there, Pujols launched career home run number 574 the very next day. Now only Mark McGwire and nine home runs stand between Pujols and a top ten spot on the all-time leaderboard.

Looking to next week, the Angels will try to put this rough patch behind them. Unfortunately, the hot hitting Astros come to town to open the week before the Angels hit the road for a weekend in Boston. Not an easy week for a team that has been scuffling of late with an 8-16 record in June.

Down on the Farm:

The Mariners made a move last week to add former top prospect RHP Zach Lee from the Dodgers. In return the Dodgers received infielder Chris Taylor. So, since Lee is new to the division I thought it prudent to take a quick look at the trade and give a quick profile of Lee.

The trade should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the Mariners lately, as they have watched an injury riddled rotation cause enormous strain on the bullpen. With Felix Hernandez and Wade Miley finding themselves on the DL and Taijuan Walker sitting out with a lingering foot injury, Seattle has been in desperate need of some added pitching depth.

This trade could really help both teams as Taylor was a surplus for the Mariners who have Ketel Marte and Robinson Cano established up the middle already, while the Dodgers boast some impressive pitching depth and did not currently or in the near future see a spot for Lee.

Lee has been pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, posting a 4.89 ERA and 57 strikeouts over thirteen starts. While his numbers will not blow anyone away, Lee profiles as a decent fourth or fifth starter and could provide solid value for the Mariners as a spot starter and injury insurance for their hobbled rotation. At one point Lee did crack a number of top 100 lists, climbing as high as number 45 in 2012. 

Series:

Seattle Mariners vs Baltimore Orioles – Thursday, June 30th – Sunday, July 3rd

There are a number of big matchups this week in the division as the Rangers trip to New York, the Astros series against the White Sox vaunted rotation, Seattle’s matchup with Pittsburgh and the Bay Bridge Series between Oakland and San Francisco all deserve some recognition. None the less the series that we are going to highlight this week is between the Mariners and Orioles. The key here is the importance of the series for Seattle as they try to find some footing before we reach the All Star break in just a few short weeks. With a couple of strong weeks, Baltimore has opened a four game lead in the tough AL East, while the Mariners have fallen all the way back to .500. With the series at home the Mariners have to be looking for nothing less than a split and really could use a series win to instill some confidence back into the team and the fanbase.

Pitching Matchups:

As noted above, a number of big time series in the upcoming week involve AL West teams, so for a change we actually had a number of solid pitching matchups to choose from. I did whittle the list down to three though, so here they are:   

Cole Hamels (8-1) at C.C. Sabathia (5-4) – Tuesday, June 28th

While this is not the 2009 World Series when both of these guys were truly among the best in the game, both have been having strong seasons and showing the ace stuff that everyone came accustomed to over the years. Sabathia currently sits with a 2.71 ERA on the year despite a lower 7.62 K/9. Hamels has a 2.79 ERA on the year with an 8.95 K/9 to mirror Sabathia’s impressive numbers. Both offenses have some thump and Yankee Stadium isn’t known for keeping the ball in the yard, so both men have their work cut out for them on Tuesday.

Wade Miley (6-3) vs Jameson Taillon (1-1) – Wednesday, June 29th

A couple of story lines of note in this one. First, Miley is projected to return to the rotation from the DL, so a strong start here could go a long way in easing Mariners fans minds. On the other side, top prospect Taillon will be making just his fifth start and looking to get back on track after allowing four runs on eight hits in four innings in each of his last two starts. So, while neither pitcher is necessarily in top form both mean a lot to their respective teams moving forward and could really use a strong showing this week.

Doug Fister (8-4) vs Chris Sale (13-2) – Saturday, July 2nd

Can you say opposite ends of the spectrum? Sale has some of the nastiest stuff in the league and has basically been dealing all year with a 2.79 ERA and 109 strikeouts on the season. Fister  on the other hand has also found success this season, but with a fastball sitting in the upper 80s. This game will come down to whether or not Fister can keep the Astros in the game and give them a chance to hopefully get to the White Sox bullpen, as Sale owns a 0.66 ERA against Houston over five starts in which he has racked up a staggering 12.3 K/9.

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