AL West Week in Review: 5/29

With Anaheim leading the division for most of the season and most eyes on the money spent in Seattle and the recent success of the A's, everybody forgot about the Texas Rangers. Don't look now, but the Rangers have caught the Angels in the race for the division crown.

It seems the AL West finally has finally reached some separation as the Angels and Rangers pulled away from the bottom dwelling A's and Mariners. Here is a look at the highlights.

LA Angels 27-20 – Last 7 Days: 4-3

Bats: The Angels stayed the course last week with a mediocre 4-3 mark, but good enough to barely stay ahead of the surging Rangers. Without injured 2004 MVP Vlad Guerrero, Darin Erstad led the Angels with a 360 BA and 3 doubles. Juan Riviera handled the homerun responsibilities hitting two and driving in 5 RBI's, as the team managed 5 long balls. Much heralded rookie Dallas McPherson hit his second homerun of the season but also struck out 9 times and Steve Finley seems to get worse with every AB going 4 for 25 yet striking out only once.

Arms: The Angels Pitching staff continues to shine compiling a sensational 1.97 ERA last week. Rookie Ervin Santana (1-1), John Lackey (5-2, 3.88 ERA) and Jared Washburn (3-3, 3.73 ERA) all earned wins after stellar outings though a lack of run support kept staff ace Bartolo Colon (5-3, 2.53 ERA) out of the win column. Scot Shields continued to lead a fantastic Angels pen with two saves and lowered his ERA to 0.96.

Texas Rangers 28-20 - Last 7 Days: 7-0

Bats: Supposedly the Rangers are hot to trot for Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, though I can't for the life of me understand why. This isn't an offense in need of any help. The Rangers lineup hit .312 last week and drove in a mind-boggling 42 runs. Richard Hidalgo bashed five home runs and Michael Young hit .478. In fact, there were too many offensive stars to mention in this column, but MarkTeixeira (.364 BA, 3 HR's) Kevin Mench (.381 BA) stood out and just about every other Ranger had a great week at the plate.

Arms: 2.00 Team ERA! They must be partying on the roof in Dallas, Texas. Kenny Rogers was sterling as expected notching two more wins to improve to 6-2 on the year and no starter gave up more than runs in a game. Meanwhile, the bullpen continues its remarkable improvement giving up only two runs in 13 innings of work. If the Rangers can continue to pitch even remotely close to the way they have over the last few weeks, they should run away with the AL West. Not only that, but they are a blast to watch play.

Seattle Mariners, 18-28 - Last 7 Days: 2-4

Bats: Jeremy Reed led a rather soft Mariner attack with a .368 BA, upping it to .260 for the season. Richie Sexson also had a good week tallying seven hits and an OBP of .375. Ichiro continued to have an odd May, hitting only .250, as did Adrian Beltre who managed only six hits and struck out six times in 24 AB's this past week. Somehow Miguel Olivo was able to lower his season average to .139 with only one hit in 13 AB's. How does he remain on a big league roster?

Arms: Wouldn't you know it? The starters finally start pitching well enough to win a game or two, and the Mariners bats still can't seem to turn on the juice. Apparently, Joel Piniero wasn't really having any problem with mechanics, he was simply unhappy with his hair returning form Tacoma as a blonde looking like Bret Boone's twin. It seemed to work, however, as Pineiro gave up just one run and hit 94 mph on the radar gun. Jamie Moyer finally had a decent outing but couldn't overcome a 3 run first inning deficit and Aaron Sele... Well, he looked like a Cy Young candidate for the second start in a row after his 4-hit, complete game shutout against the NL West-leading San Diego Padres. Ryan Franklin continued his Dr. Jeckel/Mr Hyde season surrendering 8 runs in 13 innings of work, and dropping his record to a 2-6 on the season. Either the bats have so little confidence in him that they don't even bother coming to play when he pitches or he is just the unluckiest pitcher in baseball.

Oakland A's, 17-30 – Last 7 Days: 0-6

Bats: I recently heard a rumor that Billy Beane is planning a new strategy which apparently involves boring the opposing team to submission - though it doesn't seem to be working. Actually, they had one of their better offensive weeks in recent memory, collectively batting .238 and hitting three homeruns with five stolen bases. They only managed 22 runs scored and lost six straight, but at least a couple of players are worth mentioning. Bobby Keilty went 9-for-24 scoring four runs, and Keith Ginter had seven RBI's, though he only hit .222. For those keeping tabs on Eric Chavez, he hit .269 without an extra base hit, striking out five times.

Arms: The good news is that Barry Zito seems to be returning to some measure of respectability, boasting a 4.00 ERA over his last four starts, but he is still nowhere close to the dominating Cy Young winner of years past. Danny Haren (5 ER's, 14 hits in 13 innings) had a couple of decent starts but Joe Blanton continues to get hammered as does fill in, Seth Etherton. The bullpen continues to look solid, though they haven't inherited a lead in over a week.

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