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. Oakland A's (63-45) — The A's came back time and time again over the weekend against the Los Angeles Angels, which should be no shock considering a) the Angels' bullpen and b) the A's tendency to be a "never-say-die" poster child. This team is fun to watch, and if they weren't a thorn in the Rangers' side, they'd be a good squat for you to pull for. Instead, they've replaced the Angels as the Rangers' mortal enemies. Two straight losses have helped the Rangers gain ground for the first time in a month and the August schedule awaiting this team is much more difficult than the Rangers'. Treading water in August will go a long way toward the A's winning the West. Next up: Friday, 9:05 p.m., vs. Texas Rangers.
2. Texas Rangers (59-49) — You can't have a much more dramatic week than the Rangers have had so far. After being embarrassed on Sunday and getting swept by Cleveland, the team had a 45-minute closed-door meeting before leaving Cleveland. It seems to have worked as the Rangers are coming off a sweep of the lowly Angels, winning all three games with walk-off homers — only the second team to ever do that three straight nights against the same team. The offense still might be a little starved, but the team's confidence is at a high at the moment. If they can have a good result Thursday they'll be riding high into Oakland for a huge showdown. Next up: Today, 6:05 p.m., vs. Arizona Diamondbacks.
3. Seattle Mariners (50-57) — The Mariners somewhat surprisingly stood pat at the trade deadline despite having several good pieces to sell off, particularly in the way of bats. The thought is that their GM is without a contract for next season and wants to win as many games as possible this year, and the team has actually been pretty hot recently before losing their last two games to Boston. King Felix takes the hill for Seattle for the series finale though, so that always gives the Mariners a leg up. Next up: Today, 6:10 p.m., at Boston Red Sox.
4. Los Angeles Angels (48-58) — Is there a worst bullpen in baseball? We'd argue no. That was the case before the Angels traded Scott Downs to Atlanta, and it's definitely the case now. The Rangers just victimized the Angels' bullpen for three straight nights, including an improbable comeback from down 11-7 in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. Josh Hamilton hit well against the Rangers, but he hasn't hit against anyone else this season. This team is officially finished, as it is closer to last place in the division than first place. Next up: Today, 9:05 p.m., vs. Toronto Blue Jays.
5. Houston Astros (36-70) — The Astros topped the contending Orioles 11-0 on Wednesday night, which pretty much matched their run total for the entire season. Not really, but you get the picture. The Astros are an MLB-worst 26 games out of first place in their division and just dealt their best pitcher, Bud Norris, to the Orioles. It's all part of the future plans for the team, who actually have a really good farm system and should be good sooner rather than later. Next up: Today, 6:05 p.m., at Baltimore Orioles.