In a weekly segment, we'll take a look around the AL West — what's happened so far, and what's on tap in the coming days.
1. Texas Rangers (14-8) — Suddenly, the M.A.S.H. unit Rangers have found their way into first place in the West after a road sweep of hated rival Oakland. It's a mystery how the team is playing as well as it is with 11 players on the disabled list and a bunch of no-names playing key roles, but it's happened. Imagine what it could be like when Adrian Beltre gets back Friday, Matt Harrison gets back Sunday and Shin-Soo Choo is back hopefully without a DL stint. Next up: Friday, 9:10 p.m., at Seattle Mariners.
2. Oakland Athletics (13-8) — With a win tonight, the A's could pull even with Texas, but the sweep they suffered at the hands of their beaten-up rivals in their dump of a stadium sends a message, for sure, even if it is just April. The A's bullpen is clearly a huge mess, and that was such a big strength of the team that won two straight AL West titles and unseated the Rangers as the kings of the West. The more things shake out, it seems we're in for another two-horse race this year. Next up: Today, 7:10 p.m., at Houston Astros.
3. Los Angeles Angels (10-11) — Albert Pujols is back to mashing home runs, and Mike Trout is still incredible, but the Angels are missing what was a red-hot start for Josh Hamilton, who can't get out of his own way and is on the shelf for two months. That could be enough to once again sink the Angels early on, although they've played better over the first three weeks of the season than they have in recent seasons. Next up: Friday, 6:05 p.m., at New York Yankees.
4. Seattle Mariners (8-13) — After a good start to the season, things have turned sour in a hurry for the Mariners, who avoided a nine-game losing skid with a walkoff homer against the Astros, of all teams, on Wednesday. They still have some solid pitching, and their lineup looks better on paper than it's actually performed this year. Next up: Friday, 9:10 p.m., vs. Texas Rangers.
5. Houston Astros (7-15) — Same ol', same ol' for the Astros. They're a young team with a bunch of guys who would ideally still be in the minor leagues, but they aren't just guys, they're primo prospects. This team should be a contender in a few years, but like last season, they'll be learning on the fly in 2014 and should approach 100 losses once again. Next up: 7:10 p.m., vs. Oakland Athletics.