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A Look Around the West

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Los Angeles Angels Albert Pujols connects for a two-run homer against Washington Nationals Taylor Jordan in the fifth inning of a baseball game in Washington, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. This was Pujols 500th career home run. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    In a weekly post, we'll take a look around the AL West — what's happened so far, and what's on tap in the coming days.

    1. Houston Astros (42-32) — The 'Stros have gained a couple of games on the Rangers in the midst of a four-game losing skid in Arlington, and Houston is now sitting pretty with a four-game lead on the division. They seem to have recovered from a rough patch a couple of weeks ago that saw the Rangers pull as close as one game away from first place. Their bats are coming to life again, and that bullpen is getting back to form. Next up: Tonight, 7:10 p.m., vs. New York Yankees.

    2. Texas Rangers (37-35) — The Rangers have lost four straight and will look to avoid a sweep by Oakland today. They've seen the Angels close the gap on them and now just have a half-game lead over the Halos for second place in the division. Some injured guys are coming back, but some others are hurting (see Mitch Moreland and Shin-Soo Choo). Next up: Today, 1:10 p.m., vs. Oakland A's.

    3. Los Angeles Angels (37-36) — Albert Pujols is suddenly the Albert Pujols of St. Louis Cardinals fame. He and Mike Trout are both having spectacular years, but no one else can seem to do much at the plate for the Angels. Their pitching staff seems to be coming together a bit, and if that happens, you should beware. Next up: Friday, 9:05 p.m., vs. Seattle Mariners.

    4. Seattle Mariners (33-40) — Somehow, there has yet to be a firing in Seattle as both manager Lloyd McClendon and the Mariners' longtime GM still have a job. They were expected to be far and away the best team in the West this year, and instead they're awful. Nelson Cruz got off to a scorching start in April but has been awful for the past month and a half. Sound familiar? Next up: Friday, 9:05 p.m., at Los Angeles Angels.

    5. Oakland Athletics (33-41) — The worst team in the division has suddenly won four straight games and can make it five with a sweep in Texas today. Their offense is coming to life, and their pitching staff is always going to be solid just because that's the way it is. They still have a long way to go, but they could be in the midst of making a run. Next up: Today, 1:10 p.m., at Texas Rangers.