AL West Week in Review: May 19-26

Seattle and Oakland are in a two-way race atop the division, doing it with pitching and defense. Anaheim and Texas, third and fourth respectively, each need help from their pitching staff if they want to make a run at the Mariners and Athletics.

SEATTLE MARINERS (31-18)
The Mariners 31-18 start is good for best in the American League to date... The team went 3-3 last week over a 6 game home stand with Kansas City and Minnesota... SS Carlos Guillen triggered the offense, hitting .450 (9 of 20)... RHP Gil Meche led all pitchers with another stellar performance on Thursday against the Royals, giving up just 1 run on 6 hits in 6 2/3 innings to go along with 7 K's... The victory pushed Meche to 6-2 in 2003

Freddy got lit up: RHP Freddy Garcia entered this season as Seattle's number one starter but has struggled mightily. Against Kansas City on the 21st, the right-hander gave up 7 runs in 7 innings (6 in the first 2), raising his ERA to a team-high 5.90 and dropping his record to a dismal 3-6 on the year. Over the team's last 19 games, the M's are 0-3 in games he has started and 12-4 otherwise. This is a huge concern as Seattle will clearly need solid production from him if they intend on making a legitimate run this year.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS (29-20)
Oakland has allowed 168 runs on the year - best in the AL... The A's split their 6 games over the week, going 3-3 against Minnesota and Kansas City... RHP Tim Hudson was 1-0 for the week in 2 starts, giving up just 3 earned runs in 15 innings while striking out 9... RHP Mark Mulder added his standard complete game for the week, going the full 9 and allowing just 1 run on 8 hits in a 4-1 victory over the Royals on Friday... It was Mulder's MLB leading 5th complete game of the year.

Byrning up: OF Eric Byrnes led the team in hitting for the week, going 11 for 24 (.458). Byrnes, an 8th round draft choice by the team out of UCLA in 1998, is considered by GM Billy Beane to be one of the hardest working players he has been around. His efforts are paying off, as he is hitting .353 for the season with 20 RBI's.


ANAHEIM ANGELS (24-24)
Anaheim went just 3-3 in a week where they played host to 2 of baseball's worst teams - the Orioles and Devil Rays... If they have any aspirations of getting back to the level they were at a year ago, they'll have to do a much better job winning the games they should win... Adding to the team's woes, closer Troy Percival was placed on the 15 day DL on the 23rd after dislocating his hip during warmups.

Mr. Everything: 3B Troy Glaus was absolutely dominant in the Angels' 6 game home stand. He lead the team in nearly every offensive category, including hits (11), average (.550), homeruns (4), and RBI's (8). He also tied OF Jeff DaVanon for the team lead in stolen bases with 3 for the week and tallied an unbelievable 27 total bases in 20 at bats.


TEXAS RANGERS (23-26
Texas has given up an MLB worst 315 runs in 2003... Things didn't get any better this week, when they yielded 43 runs over a 6 game span to Tampa Bay and Baltimore... They still managed a 4-2 record for the week - tops in the AL West - but gave up a combined 23 runs in the 2 losses... Of the pitchers who notched victories, three posted ERA's over 4.00 (RHP Joaquin Benoit 7.20, RHP Todd Van Poppel 27.00, and RHP Ismael Valdes 4.50)... With an offense this potent, the pitching has to be awful to hold the Rangers back - and it is.

Forever Young: With so many powerful run producers in the lineup, 2B Michael Young often gets overlooked. All he did this week was hit .565 while scoring 6 times, raising his average to a blistering .349 this season - not bad production from a guy who usually bats 9th. With Young at second, surrounded by other youngsters such as SS Alex Rodriguez, 3B Hank Blalock, and 1B Mark Teixeira, the Rangers have a potentially dominant infield for years to come.

Luke Lapinski lives in Tempe, AZ and attends the Arizona State University, where he hosts the radio show, "The Mad UnderGrads." He once ate a hot dog from the Kingdome and survived to tell about it. Luke enjoys reading feedback, and can be reached at thebigll@hotmail.com.


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