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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Weekly AL West Roundup, Week 22

Seattle slides to the outskirts of the Wild Card picture, as Texas marches closer to clinching the division.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Behind an early week sweep of Oakland, the Astros jumped ahead of Seattle in the playoff race and kept hope alive heading into the toughest stretch of games on their schedule. The next 10 games will go a long way in determining if the Astros really have anything to play for down the final stretch.

AL West Current Standings

Team

Wins

Losses

GB

Texas

82

55

-

Houston

72

64

9.5

Seattle

69

67

12.5

Los Angeles

61

75

20.5

Oakland

58

78

23.5


Taking a peak at the trend chart, and the rest of the division as a whole the Rangers continue to march to their own beat, steadily climbing further and further ahead of the rest of the division. In the middle of the pack, the Astros jumped ahead of the Mariners. Looking further down the food chain, the Angels took a solid step and moved ahead of Oakland in the race for the bottom.

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

1. Texas Rangers (5-1)

We will keep things brief this week, as focus continues to turn away from individual results and toward positioning in the playoff race. Week 21 was the beginning of a two week stretch where the Rangers had the opportunity to bury their biggest divisional competitors. Needless to say they took a huge first step toward that goal by taking five of six.

The Rangers opened up the week by sweeping the Mariners, taking a big step toward securing the division and severely hurting the Mariners Wild Card chances at the same time. Following the big sweep, the Rangers proceeded to take two of three over Houston. Of particular note, the Rangers who have won so many one run games this year had a run differential of +26 and went a pedestrian 1-1 in one run games. The Rangers offense scored six or more runs in all six games and looked as dangerous as any point all season.

Looking forward, the Rangers will face off with their AL West foes again as they travel to Seattle for four before heading to Los Angeles for a weekend series.

2. Houston Astros (4-2)

The division may have drifted out of reach, but the Astros find themselves in the thick of AL Wild Card race. Another strong week made sure that they stayed alive. The Astros opened the week with a sweep of Oakland to complete a 5-1 home stand before hitting the road and traveling to Arlington where they were only able to salvage one win.

The Astros were able to complete the sweep of Oakland behind solid pitching, giving up four runs in the three game series. Then came the Texas series and the same results we have seen all year. Texas jumped Astros pitching for 28 runs over the weekend plating 10 in game one and 12 in game two before cooling off and only scoring six in Sunday’s finale.

The Astros wrap up their road trip this week with four games in Cleveland before returning home for a series against the Chicago Cubs. With Cleveland atop the AL Central and the Cubs boasting the best record in baseball it will be a tough, but important stretch of games for the Astros.

3. Seattle Mariners (1-5)

After working so hard to battle back into the playoff picture, Seattle has now strung together a pair of duds, losing their last four series on the way to losing 10 of 13.

In week 21, the Mariners headed to Arlington where they were swept before facing off against the Angels where they dropped two of three. The Mariners offense has struggled with consistency in recent weeks. During the past week the offense scored three runs or less in four of six, but plated 11 in their lone win of the week. Pitching hasn’t been a whole lot better, giving up six or more in each of the first five games of the week.

Things don’t get easier, as the Mariners welcome Texas to Seattle for four in a series that could very well push the Mariners out of contention. Over the weekend, the Mariners will be headed to Oakland for three.

4. Los Angeles Angels (5-1)

The Angels swept their opening series of week 21 by taking three over Cincinnati. To follow up the sweep, the Angeles managed to take two of three in Seattle behind the power of the home run.

Of note, the Angels went deep multiple times in the first inning in each of the three games in Seattle becoming the first team in modern history to hit two home runs in the first inning in three straight games.

Further in our weekly look at the amazing career of Albert Pujols, his home run on Sunday was his 134th first inning home run. The home run broke a tie with Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth for the most such home runs in major league history.

In week 22, Los Angeles hits the road to face off against Oakland and then welcomes Texas to town for the weekend.

5. Oakland A’s (1-5)

The Athletics had a rough go of things in week 21 following a strong set of series wins the previous week. After causing trouble for St. Louis and Cleveland in week 20, Oakland came back down to earth getting swept in Houston and losing the first two against Boston. Oakland salvaged the week with a 1-0 win Sunday.

Overall, the A’s offense completely disappeared over the past week failing to score more than three runs in any game over the past week. Oakland’s pitching staff did their best to keep the Athletics close early in the week allowing Houston to plate six, three and four respectively. Things changed when they faced off against Boston, as Oakland surrendered 16 runs Friday and 11 runs Saturday.

After four straight series against playoff contenders the schedule lets up a little as Oakland welcomes the Angeles and Seattle to town for three games series.

The Hunt for October:

The Wild Card picture seems to change on a daily basis, but one thing remained constant all week with Boston and Baltimore holding down the top spots. Detroit has made their move though and climbed into a tie with the Orioles for that last AL playoff spot. On the bottom end of the list, Kansas City failed to make any ground, while Seattle slid to the bottom of the list and may very well find themselves off this list all together come next week.

Wild Card Standings

Team

Wins

Losses

GB

Boston

76

60

+2

Baltimore

74

62

-

Detroit

74

62

-

Houston

72

64

2

New York

70

65

3.5

Kansas City

70

66

4

Seattle

69

67

5


Currently, the AL East race is as close as ever with Toronto only a game over the wild card leading Red Sox. Looking ahead, we have Houston at Cleveland to start the week and a pair of games featuring AL East team in Boston at Toronto and Baltimore at Detroit over the weekend highlighting a full slate of important games.

Series of the Week

Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians – Monday, September 5th – Thursday, September 8th

Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros – Friday, September 9th – Sunday, September 11th

Similar to last week when we highlighted a big week for the Rangers, this week we focus on a pivotal set of series for the Astros. In the midst of a tough 13 game stretch, Houston will face off against two of the top teams in baseball. If the Astros plan to hold pace with the rest of the teams in a crowded AL Wild Card race then they will most likely need to find a way to win one of these series and avoid getting swept in the other.

Pitching Matchups:

Dallas Keuchel (9-12) at Corey Kluber (15-8) – Tuesday, September 5th

In a week full of big games for the Astros, they will need a strong showing from their starters, perhaps none more than Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel’s most recent start was pushed back due to fatigue, so hopefully he is rested and ready to go in arguably the most important start of his season. The Astros are going to need vintage Keuchel seeing as Kluber has looked put together another dominant campaign with a 3.09 ERA and 189 strikeouts.

Kevin Gausman (7-10) at Michael Fulmer (10-6) – Friday, September 9th

For our second pitching matchup of the week, we look outside of the division to a big time matchup in the AL Wild Card race. The Baltimore series in Detroit could have major ramifications on who takes the last AL playoff spot and Friday’s series opener looks like the premier pitching matchup of the bunch. Gausman is the elder statesman in this matchup at the ripe old age of 25, so while the main storyline is obviously the AL playoff race, it isn’t the only point of interest. How will these two young hurlers fare down the stretch with the added pressure of a playoff push?