AL West Update: 7/7-7/13

As the all-star break approaches, the American League West still remains as one of the strongest divisions in baseball, with three potential playoff teams. The Athletics continue to hold the MLB’s best record, while the Angels are not too far behind, holding the top wild card spot by 6 1/2 games. The Mariners, while in third place of their division, hold the second wild card spot at the break. Here is a look at the performances of each team in the American League West over the past week:

1. Oakland Athletics (59-36, 4-3 this week)

Oakland started their week with the Bay Bridge Series, a four-game set with San Francisco. The A’s got a strong performance by Jesse Chavez at home in game one of the series on Monday, leading the way to a 5-0 win. Chavez held the Giants scoreless on four hits in six innings, which was good enough to earn him his seventh win of the season. Sonny Gray followed that with a strong start of his own on Tuesday night, a night in which the Athletics picked up a 6-1 win, with Gray allowing just one run on six hits in seven innings for his ninth win of the season. After the series shifted to San Francisco on Wednesday, the Giants picked up their first win of the series, though Oakland fought back to clinch the Bay Bridge Series on Thursday with another 6-1 victory, this one fueled by Scott Kazmir’s seven shutout innings. The A’s then traveled to Seattle to take on the Mariners, where they struggled over the weekend, salvaging just one win in the three-game series. The win came on Sunday with another gem thrown by Sonny Gray, as this time he allowed just an unearned run on six hits in seven and two-thirds innings.

2. Los Angeles Angels (57-37, 6-1 this week)

The Angels had a very strong week leading to the break, first starting at home against the Blue Jays. The teams split the first two games, trading strong pitching performances each night. Los Angeles claimed the series on Wednesday on Albert Pujols’ game-winning, two-run home run in the seventh inning. Next for the Angels was a four-game weekend series in Texas, a series that they dominated with ease. They took game one on Thursday by a score of 15-6, with Cole Kalhoun and Mike Trout picking up four hits each. Garrett Richards then dominated the Rangers on Friday night, shutting them out on five hits over seven innings en route to his eleventh win.  After exiting his Monday start with a mild injury, Jered Weaver made his next start on Saturday, recovering nicely as he allowed only two runs in seven innings. The Angels finished the sweep on Sunday afternoon with a 10-7 win, aided by two-hit days from both Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton. At the break, Los Angeles trails Oakland for the division lead by just 1 1/2 games.

3. Seattle Mariners (51-44, 3-4 this week)

The Mariners have been one of the most improved teams in baseball so far this season, using a stronger rotation and more consistent offense to propel themselves to the second wild card spot at the all-star break. However, Seattle struggled at times this week, starting the week by losing three of four at home to the Minnesota Twins. The Mariners showed inconsistency in the series, scoring just five runs. They recovered nicely over the weekend, picking up two of three from the division-leading A’s. Felix Hernandez out-dueled Jeff Samardzija on Friday night as the M’s took game one, 3-2. They clinched the series on Saturday, this time backed by a stellar outing from Hishashi Iwakuma, who allowed two runs on five hits in eight and two-thirds innings. Seattle was unable to finish the sweep on Sunday, dropping the finale by a score of 4-1.

4. Houston Astros (40-56, 4-2 this week)

The Astros have proved to be a fairly exciting team this season as they continuously build off of an influx of young talent. The likes of Dallas Keuchel, George Springer, and Jon Singleton have surfaced as the trio of the future for Houston. They started the week on the road in Texas, against a very disappointing Rangers team. Monday night was all about the Houston offense as they pounded out twelve runs on seventeen hits in their 12-7 win. They followed with eight runs on Tuesday night, with Chris Carter launching his sixteenth and seventeenth home runs on the season. The ‘Stros then completed the sweep on Wednesday with an 8-4 win, backed by a four-hit night from Robbie Grossman and George Springer’s nineteenth home run. Following an off day on Thursday, Houston traveled home to face the Red Sox, only to drop two of three to a struggling Boston ball club.

5. Texas Rangers (38-57, 0-7 this week)

The Rangers have been one of the biggest disappointments in the Major Leagues this season, holding the worst win percentage in all of baseball. Texas started the week by being swept by the Astros, as their pitching allowed twenty-eight runs in just three games. Things got no better for the Rangers over the weekend as they were again swept, this time in a four-game series by the Los Angeles Angels. Sunday’s loss marked their eighth straight loss, leaving them twenty-one games back for first place entering the all-star break.

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