In what is a weekly segment, let's take a look around the rest of the AL West, which includes your Texas Rangers entering the second half of the season in first place with a lot of work left to do. It starts tonight as all four teams open up series against each other.
1. Texas Rangers (51-41) — The Rangers were red hot entering the all-star break, winning seven straight. Now, they start with a series in Seattle, while the second-place Angels go to Oakland. But here's the interesting part, the Rangers and Angels play each other in nearly 20 percent of the remaining games on the schedule. That's going to make for a fun race. The Rangers are as healthy as they've been at any point this season and some key players (Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre, in particular) seem to be getting hot at the right time. Buckle up.
2. Los Angeles Angels (50-42) — While the Rangers were on a tear to close out the first half, winning 8 of 10 and seven straight, the Angels didn't give up any ground. Though they pulled into a first-place tie for one day, they hung tight as they too won 8 of 10 and finished with four straight going into the break. Angels ownership has apparently rescinded a previous edict to not spend anymore money this year and will be on the market for a big bat, possibly the Cubs' 3B Aramis Ramirez. Their pitching is fine. Their offense needs help, and it appears now that they'll get it.
3. Seattle Mariners (43-48) — The Mariners showed flashes of legitimacy during the first half of the season, but with their anemic offense and an injury to pitcher Erik Bedard, they've since fallen back off. The Rangers and Angels have separated themselves from the Mariners and A's and this division appears to be a two-horse race. But still, the Mariners pitchers strike fear into opponents, especially in Seattle, which is a pitchers' park.
4. Oakland A's (39-53) — Now 12 games out of first place, you can officially write off the lowly A's. Talk about injury problems, the A's have had them. And it's come at the expense of their much hyped pitching staff. Dallas Braden has been out all season with arm trouble, and won't be back. Just today, it was announced star youngster Brett Anderson will have to undergo Tommy John surgery and will be out at least a year. They can officially be buried.