AL West Week in Review

The first week of the regular season proved to be pretty even in the American League West. That didn't prevent several trends from developing as each of the four teams began to establish a team identity. Get the full scoop on the past seven days as brings you the season's first AL West Week in Review.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 6-5, 1st Place, 3-3 Last 7 Days

Bats Napping: After leading the American League with a .282 average last season, the Angels have scuffled their way to the third worst mark in the junior circuit at .241. Only the Indians (.218) and Athletics (.219) sport lower batting averages. Free agent signee Steve Finley has just seven hits in 40 at-bats (.175) and only three regulars are hitting over .270 – Darin Erstad (.280), Bengie Molina (.300) and Garret Anderson (.313). The Halos aren't making up for the lack of total hits by producing more longballs, tallying just eight home runs through 11 games. In the meantime, former Angels Jose Guillen and Troy Glaus have combined for nine home runs on the season.

Starters Lackluster: The Angels starting rotation hasn't lit the world on fire to help pick up the slack created by Anaheim's anemic offense, posting a 5.22 ERA in 11 starts. Overall, the staff has allowed 13 home runs, seven to left-handed hitters. Bartolo Colon has allowed just one home run in 19.2 innngs over three starts. In 2004, Colon served up 38 round-trippers in 208.1 innings.

Close with Texas: Anaheim has played five one-run games already and are 3-2 in those contests. Of the five, four have come against the Texas Rangers, with the Halos coming out ahead in three of the four games.

7-Day Pitching Probables:
4/17 - John Lackey (1-0, 6.52) vs. Oakland
4/18 - Paul Byrd (0-2, 6.92) vs. Seattle
4/19 - Kelvim Escobar (0-0, 0.00) vs. Seattle
4/20 - Bartolo Colon (2-1, 3.66) vs. Cleveland
4/21 - Jarrod Washburn (0-0, 2.79) vs. Cleveland
4/22 - J. Lackey vs. Oakland
4/23 - P. Byrd vs. Oakland

Oakland Athletics – 5-6, 1 GB, 3-3 Last 7 Days

A's Green With Envy: Oakland's lineup is simply not producing and the pitching staff, short two of the big three, is not equipped to handle such inadequacies in the runs scored department. The A's .219 team average is the second worst in either league and their 35 runs scored is also second worst in all of baseball. Oakland has just three regulars hitting better than .241 and the entire roster has but 19 extra-base hits between them. Rookie of the Year candidate Nick Swisher has three home runs, but has struck out 12 times to just one walk. Mr. Moneyball can't be very happy about that. Oh, and the A's have hit just eight doubles on the season – dead last in baseball.

Harden Stepping Up; Zito Stepping Down?: Athletics right-hander Rich Harden has tossed 13.1 nearly flawless innings, allowing just nine hits and a single earned run, while walking just four and striking out 13. In Harden's latest outing versus Anaheim, the 23-year-old spun eight shutout frames, striking out eight in a 1-0 Oakland victory. The Victoria, Canada native is showing the ace-like qualities that the departed Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder brought to the table over the past five seasons. Incumbent ace Barry Zito has struggled early on, despite a solid outing 4/15 versus Anaheim. Zito came into the season as the staff leader, and at 26 years old, is the most experience starter in the A's rotation. Zito may be the leader, but Harden is clearly Oakland's ace.

Two's and a Ten: Oakland has scored two runs or less in seven of 11 games and have managed just 10 runs in their six losses - which means they have scored only 26 runs, or just over five runs per game, in their five victories. Since 2000, the American League's average winning run total is 6.38.

7-Day Pitching Probables:
4/17 – Dan Haren (0-1, 2.77) vs. Anaheim
4/18 – Joe Blanton (0-0, 2.45)vs. Seattle
4/19 - Kirk Sarloos (1-1, 5.59) vs. Seattle
4/20 – Barry Zito (0-3, 7.27) vs. Texas
4/21 - Rich Harden (1-0, 0.68) vs. Texas
4/22 - D. Haren vs. Anaheim
4/23 - J. Blanton vs. Anaheim

Seattle Mariners, 5-6, 1 GB, 3-3 Last 7 Days

Same Ol', Same Ol': After spending $114 million to fix the offense, the Mariners continue to experience a lack of run support for their already so-so pitching staff. While the M's aren't in the pathetic range of the Indians and A's – they have scored 56 runs in 11 games – they have plated just 36 of those versus formidable foes, while 20 came in a three game set at pitching-challenged Kansas City. Adrian Beltre led the majors in home runs last season with 48, yet through 38 at-bats the 26-year-old has just one long ball. Catcher Miguel Olivo's struggles at the plate continue as a Seattle Mariner. Olivo is hitting just .174 and has just one extra-base hit.

Surprise, Surprise: So much for all the talk about the M's pitching staff being so subpar that they'd have major issues breaking even this year in the win-loss column. Through 4/16, Seattle is tied for first in the American League with a 3.64 ERA. But you can't call it luck. All of the secondary numbers support the argument that the Mariners are pitching pretty well. Though the M's are last in strikeouts, the Seattle staff ranks sixth in opponents batting average at .251, second in slugging percentage at .356, and have allowed the least amount of extra-base hits, 20.

When it Counts: The Mariners lead the AL in batting average with runners on base at .338. But they rank second to last in batting average with the bases empty at .206. Only the Oakland lineup is more inept without baserunners on ahead of them. The M's also lead the league with a .354 average with runners in scoring position, but are ninth in the league in at-bats with runners in scoring position.

7-Day Pitching Probables:
4/17 - Gil Meche (0-0, 7.88) vs. Chicago
4/18 – Aaron Sele (1-0, 3.75) vs. Anaheim
4/19 - Jamie Moyer (2-0, 2.50) vs. Anaheim
4/20 – Joel Pineiro (0-1, 7.94) vs. Oakland
4/21 - Ryan Franklin (1-1, 2.18) vs. Oakland
4/22 – G. Meche vs. Cleveland
4/23 - A. Sele vs. Cleveland

Texas Rangers, 5-7, 1.5 GB, 3-4 Last 7 Days

Nothing New in Arlington: The pitching improvements made statistcally by the Rangers last season are proving to be nothing more than a sunny day for a Texas dog in the hot summer. Posting a 5.27 and a 60-to-41 K/BB ratio isn't helping the club stay out of the cellar, an honor they could land for the fourth time in five seasons in the four-team AL West. If the Rangers are to challenge for a .500 season or better, GM John Hart is going to have to go outside the organization to get real help.

Hitting the Wall?: The Rangers offense was supposed to be as good as any this season and able to make up for some of the lack in team pitching. Currently, the .255 average and 81 strikeouts in 11 games is holding the Rangers under. They have hit 15 home runs, led by the three by second baseman Alfonso Soriano. With plus offensive production at so many positions, it's time for the Rangers to sacrifice some offense to land a starting pitcher who can lead the roster for the next four or five seasons. Any bids on Mark Teixeria? With Adrian Gonzalez starting to hit, Tex might be available for a premium arm.

So Much for the Youth Movement: The Rangers were expected to go with youth from within the system this season, and staff leader Kenny Rogers was to serve as teacher for the pupils. Instead, Hart spent the cash on another bat in Richard Hidalgo, and went fishing for a 35-year-old in Pedro Astacio. Through games of April 16, Rangers pitchers under the age of 30 were a combined 2-3 with a 6.78 ERA. So much for that idea, eh?

7-Day Pitching Probables:
4/17 - Chris Young (0-1 8.59) vs. Toronto
4/18 – Chan Ho Park (2-1, 4.38) vs. Oakland
4/19 - Pedro Astacio (0-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. Oakland
4/20 – Ryan Drese (1-1, 4.95) vs. Tampa Bay
4/21 - Kenny Rogers (0-1, 3.44) vs. Tampa Bay
4/22 - C. Young vs. New York
4/23 - C. Park vs. New York

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