AL West Week in Review

What a difference a week makes for the Angels and Mariners, who moved in opposite directions over the past seven days. The Angels won four-straight, three coming in a sweep at Seattle, while the Mariners managed their longest skid of the season with six losses in a row. The Athletics and Rangers, meanwhile, continued to play .500 baseball, content with maintaining the status quo. Here is a look at the highlights…

Anaheim Angels (18-12)

Despite the fact that the Angels hit an anemic .222 last week, they still managed to sweep the faltering Mariners thanks to a lot of walks and some timely hitting. The versatile Chone Figgins continued to hit the ball well, batting .412 and stealing four bases. Garrett Anderson also had a solid week with seven hits. Otherwise, the Angels struggled mightily at the plate with most of the lineup falling well short of .200. Top prospect Dallas McPherson is still trying to find his groove, tallying only three hits in 21 ABs, dropping his season average to .195. Oddly enough, Steve Finley, batting a paltry .173 on the season, is third on the team with 16 RBI. At least he's making his hits count, even they they've been few and far between.

The Mariners made the Angels pitching staff look like a bunch of CY Young winners with a team ERA of 2.42 for the week. Bartolo Colon and John Lackey both had solid starts, as did Paul Bryd, as the Angels starters went 4-2 on the week. The Angels' bullpen continues to pitch lights out as well, giving up only four earned runs in 10 innings of work last week.

If the Angels could get a couple more hitters to swing the bat they have a chance to run away with the division. As it is now, they aren't playing much better than .500 ball. Given time, that will likely change.

Texas Rangers (16-15)

37 RBI this past week, 39 strikeouts. How can you not love the Rangers' offense. Over the past seven days, they did it without the long ball, hitting only six dingers. Alfonso Soriano led the team with 8 RBI, which is more than the entire Mariners lineup, and did it with only six hits. Though nobody really stood out last week, the entire lineup hit a respectable .255, scoring 39 runs. If the Rangers' offense has an Achilles Heal other than its pitching, it is a lack of base on balls; so far, they've struck out more than twice as much as they've walked. As Rangers' hitters continue to mature, that stat should slowly dissipate, but it is troubling trend none-the-less.

Rangers pitchers, meanwhile, had their best week of the season so far with a 4.58 ERA, surrendering only 27 runs. Not exactly outstanding. Kenny Rogers continued his Moyer-like season, shutting out the A's and earning his second win. He has a brilliant 2.11 ERA this season and continues to be the lone bright spot for the Rangers' starters.

Without some pitching help, the Rangers will likely continue to play at or around the .500 mark. With some pitching, this team could be scary.

Oakland Athletics (14-16)

Message to Billy Beane; your team couldn't be more boring if you were playing curling in Canada. Moneyball continues to prove its worth as the A's sit in the midst of a 3-game skid, but the good news for Oakland fans is that the offense sort of turned it around last week with a team average of .260 and a solid OBP (big surprise) of 353. One has to wonder why, even though the Moneyball OBP principles seem to be working, the A's aren't winning more games? They don't steal, they don't hit homeruns or do anything else other than hit singles and walk, so consequently they don't win. Eric Chavez had a decent week, going 6-26 (okay, not that decent, but given his struggles so far it's a move in the right direction. Mark Kotsay (.333 BA) also continues to swing the bat well, as do Mark Ellis (.333 BA) and Bobby Kielty (.444 BA).

The good news for A's fans is that Barry Zito finally looked like his old self against Seattle, giving up only two runs in 7.0 innings and earning his first win. The bad news is, no other starter in the rotation won, including Rich Harden, who pitched a nine-inning gem but came away with a loss against Texas. Harden, one of the top up-and-coming young pitchers in the game, continues to show legitimate top-of-the-rotation stuff. Rookie Dan Haren has cooled off after a hot start, with two poor outings in a row.

Seattle (12-17)

Outside of Ichiro Suzuki, nobody is doing anything to help this team win, and the deceptive thing about the team's 15 runs last week was that most of them came after the game was effectively over anyway. Adrian Beltre (.148 BA, 0 BB) is looking worse and worse the more he presses, as does Richie Sexson. (.150 BA, 7 SO). Bret Boone (.279 BA) looked a little more comfortable at the plate, but Miguel Olivo went hitless for the week and is striking out every once every three at-bats. The M's are in BIG trouble if they can't get the offense moving, and Beltre holds the key. The team-hitting leader last week? Dan Wilson with a 333 BA, and now out for the season. How does Wiki Gonzalez as a starter sound? Let's hope Ryan Chriistianson continues his tear at Triple-A Tacoma and gets back behind the plate soon.

The Mariners pitching continued to look decent last week with a 4.36 ERA. Respectable, but not nearly good enough to carry an anemic offense. Ryan Franklin returned to his 2004 form last week, not exactly the sign the M's hoped for but one that was bound to happen. The bullpen however, continued its dominance, giving up only three earned runs in 16 innings of work.

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