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 (45-33) — After a dismal two weeks that saw them fall as far as three games out of first place, the Rangers fought back, taking three of four against Oakland, sweeping St. Louis and can take a series in The Bronx Thursday afternoon with a win. The Rangers' lineup is finally healthy and is starting to click again and the bullpen, despite a legitimate fear of them being overworked, has been extraordinary. The starting pitchers need to start going a little deeper to give those guys a breather. Next up: Today, 12:05 p.m., at New York Yankees.
1. Oakland A's (46-34) — The A's pulled off two straight wins over a good Reds team that will visit Arlington this weekend to finish off a brutal June schedule for the Rangers full of contenders. A.J. Griffin had a career outing on Wednesday as one of many young A's starting pitchers, as he threw a two-hit shutout against a stacked Reds lineup. It's going to be a fun race down the stretch between these top two teams. Next up: Friday, 9:05 p.m., vs. St. Louis Cardinals.
3. Los Angeles Angels (35-43) — The Angels are starting to play well, and it's a bit surprising after a crushing defeat on Sunday to Pittsburgh when they blew a lead, roared back, then blew another lead. But it didn't faze the downtrodden Angels, who have won two straight in Detroit and will look to complete a three-game sweep on Thursday over the AL Central's top team. Jered Weaver is struggling since his return from the disabled list and Jason Vargas is now on the DL and might need surgery. That's bad news for a questionable pitching staff. Next up: Today, 12:08 p.m., at Detroit Tigers.
4. Seattle Mariners (34-45) — The Mariners looked to be building something good after they claimed third place but have since run into the buzzsaw that is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have now won six straight games. The Mariners have won just three of their last 10 games and have fallen back into fourth place. Next up: Friday, 9:10 p.m., vs. Chicago Cubs.
5. Houston Astros (30-49) — Not much to see here. The only thing worth watching about the Astros is some potential trade deadline targets such as starting pitcher Bud Norris. They are a strong candidate to lose 100 games, and possibly much more once they trade away some of their good players. Next up: Friday, 7:10 p.m., vs. Los Angeles Angels.