Josh Hamilton in the dugout at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
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 (78-55) — All of the sudden, the Rangers are a half-game away from having the best record in the American League and are coming off a road sweep of the Seattle Mariners, including Wednesday's slaughter of King Felix. They've won seven of their last 10 and have won 19 of their 25 games this month, about what was expected given the softness of their August schedule. Heading into Thursday they're clinging to a 2 1/2-game lead over Oakland, which has surged lately but has still given up 8 1/2 games this month to the Rangers. Next up: Friday, 7:05 p.m., vs. Minnesota Twins.
2. Oakland A's (75-57) — The A's have won three straight in Detroit in a series the Rangers certainly hoped would go differently, considering the Tigers had the best record in the American League when the series started on Monday. Now, the A's are facing Max Scherzer, going for his 20th win this year, on Thursday afternoon looking to complete a four-game road sweep. Next up: Today, 12:08 p.m., at Detroit Tigers.
3. Los Angeles Angels (59-72) — The Angels are .500 over their last 10 games and have fared decently against a good Tampa Bay team, but their season is still in shambles as they sit 18 games back in the West and 15 1/2 games back in the wild card race. Josh Hamilton is hitting the ball again, but too little, too late on that front. Still surprised Mike Scioscia hasn't been made a scapegoat yet. Next up: Today, 12:10 p.m., at Tampa Bay Rays.
4. Seattle Mariners (59-73) — When Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma lose back-to-back games, you know things aren't going well for the Mariners, who have fallen a half-game behind the Angels for the race for distant third in the division. Some of their young bats, who were rocking a couple of weeks ago, have gone ice cold and things are just going pretty poorly. Next up: Today, 7:10 p.m., at Houston Astros.
5. Houston Astros (44-88) — With their loss on Wednesday night, the Astros were officially eliminated from playoff contention — hate to ruin the suspense for you there. We've said it before, and we'll say it again, this team won't be down for too terribly long. Their farm is stocked and they have some solid, young pitching, but this year is just going awfully, exactly as they expected. Next up: Today, 7:10 p.m., vs. Seattle Mariners.