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 (26-14) — The Rangers are a game in the loss column away from being tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in all of baseball, but as it stands they're a game up on the Yankees for the best record in the American League. Sweeping the Astros is no big deal, but winning a series in Oakland, over the second-place A's, in O.co Coliseum, where the Rangers' division title run ended last year, is a huge deal moving forward. They're doing all of this and Matt Harrison is on the shelf, along with A.J. Pierzynski, and David Murphy has been awful. Now, the Rangers have a week's worth of cushion over the next-best team. Things are looking good in Arlington. Next up: Tonight, 7:05 p.m., vs Detroit Tigers.
2. Oakland A's (20-22) — Entering this season, it looked the AL West might be one of the best divisions in baseball and likely the most hotly contested division in the majors, but not so much. The A's did get Coco Crisp back from a trip to the DL this week, which should help liven up their offense. Yoenis Cespedes is still hitting like crazy but their young pitching from last year hasn't performed quite as well it did a year ago. And remember all those one-run games the A's were winning last year? Well that law of averages might be starting to catch up with them. They're still the Rangers' toughest competition in the division, but the gap is widening. Next up: Friday, 9:05 p.m., vs. Kansas City Royals.
3. Seattle Mariners (19-21) — Tied with the A's at seven games back of the Rangers, the Mariners seem to be in it for the long haul when it comes to contending for that second spot in the division with a revamped offense, a new-look park and a still-good pitching staff. But the more you look at it, the more it seems the Rangers are in a position where they can pull away in the division much like they did in 2010 when they led by double-digits late into the summer. Next up: Tonight, 6:05 p.m., at New York Yankees.
4. Los Angeles Angels (15-25) — It doesn't seem like the Angels are in any position to contend this year. The pitching is bad and the offense just hasn't come together. The result? The Angels sit 11 games behind the Rangers at the quarter-pole of the season. Mike Scioscia, meet the hot seat. Next up: Tonight, 9:05 p.m., vs. Chicago White Sox.
5. Houston Astros (11-30) — How did these guys win a series against the Astros last week, again? Oh, because both teams are just not good. Don't be at all surprised if the Astros (you wouldn't be) and the Angels (you might be) finish as the last two teams in the division. Next up: Tonight, 6:05 p.m., at Pittsburgh Pirates.