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Oakland A's hold serve as All-Star break looms: AL West reset

We're waiting for the big surge from the Athletics. Will it ever come?

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics held their ground in the AL West over the last 13 games, with the Astros playing one extra game to get to an 8-6 record over the last couple weeks and the Angels and Rangers swapping positions. The American League Wild Card race is incredibly flat, with just seven games separating the last place A's from the Twins occupying the second Wild Card position at 44-39. This is the smallest separation in either league between a second place team in the Wild Card standings and last place at the end of July 6 since the introduction of the Wild Card in 1994.

Standings through July 6
W L GB Since 6/22 RS/G RA/G Place W L Place W L Place W L
Astros 49 36 -- 8-6 4.6 3.8 1st 88 74 T-1st 88 74 1st 95 67
Angels 44 38 3.5 9-3 4.1 3.8 2nd 86 76 T-1st 88 74 2nd 85 77
Rangers 41 42 7.0 4-9 4.3 4.5 T-4th 78 84 3rd 81 81 4th 78 84
Mariners 38 45 10.0 6-7 3.4 4.0 3rd 80 82 4th 79 83 5th 70 92
Athletics 38 47 11.0 7-6 4.4 3.8 T-4th 78 84 5th 78 84 3rd 84 78
Steamer/ZiPS projection and BaseRuns projection from Fangraphs. PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.

The A's are 24-17 since May 23, a .585 win rate. Continuing that over the final 77 games will net the A's an 83- or 84-win season. The low watermark since the introduction of the second Wild Card in 2012 has been 88 wins, performed several times.

1st. Houston Astros (48-36, 8-6 since 6/22)

Everyone keeps waiting for the Astros to collapse, but so far the Astros appear content to ride the 18-7 start that propelled them a seven-game lead in the AL West on May 3. The Astros are 30-29 since then, but no one in the division has seen fit to sustain a strong challenge to Houston's superiority.

It's been a streaky sort of superiority. This year's Astros streaks of four games or more are streaks of winning four, winning 10, winning five, losing seven, winning five, and winning five. The last couple of weeks have seen the Astros lose two of three to the Angels, split four games with the Yankees, sweep the Royals, and lose two of three to the Red Sox. They won the first of four games against the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

On the injury front, the Astros are without reliever Chad Qualls and outfielder George SpringerQualls was added to the disabled list with a pinched neck nerve retroactive to June 25. Springer was added to the disabled list on July 2 after he suffered a wrist fracture on a hit-by-pitch and is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks. The outfielder is hitting an impressive .264/.365/.457 in 324 plate appearances, and with his decent play in right field he is credited with 2.6 WAR on Fangraphs.

Starting pitcher Brett Oberholtzer, finally returned from injury, now finds himself in hot water after getting ejected for throwing at Alex Rodriguez during a blowout loss to the Yankees. Oberholtzer was demoted after the game explicitly for non-performance based reasons, with manager A.J. Hinch saying, "I would like to go on record and say that is not how we operate around here." Dan Straily took his place in the rotation on July 3.

Finally, just some drips and drabs: The Astros activated Jake Marisnick from the disabled list and starting pitcher Scott Feldman began a rehab assignment. Jose Altuve was elected the starting second baseman for the American League All-Star team.

Astros results since June 22
Date Opponent Result Astros rec. Div. GB Streak Astros starter Opp. starter
22-Jun at Angels L 3-4 41-31 +3.0 L1 Brett Oberholtzer Hector Santiago
23-Jun at Angels W 13-3 42-31 +4.0 W1 Collin McHugh C.J. Wilson
24-Jun at Angels L 1-2 (13) 42-32 +4.0 L1 Lance McCullers Andrew Heaney
25-Jun vs Yankees W 4-0 43-32 +5.0 W1 Dallas Keuchel Adam Warren
26-Jun vs Yankees L 2-3 43-33 +5.0 L1 Vincent Velasquez Nathan Eovaldi
27-Jun vs Yankees L 6-9 43-34 +4.0 L2 Brett Oberholtzer Masahiro Tanaka
28-Jun vs Yankees W 3-1 44-34 +4.0 W1 Collin McHugh Michael Pineda
29-Jun vs Royals W 6-1 45-34 +4.0 W2 Lance McCullers Joe Blanton
30-Jun vs Royals W 4-0 46-34 +4.0 W3 Dallas Keuchel Danny Duffy
1-Jul vs Royals W 6-5 47-34 +5.0 W4 Vincent Velasquez Edinson Volquez
2-Jul OFF DAY +5/0 OFF DAY
3-Jul at Red Sox W 12-8 (10) 48-34 +5.0 W5 Dan Straily Justin Masterson
4-Jul at Red Sox L 1-6 48-35 +4.0 L1 Collin McHugh Clay Buchholz
5-Jul at Red Sox L 4-5 48-36 +3.0 L2 Lance McCullers Eduardo Rodriguez
6-Jul at Indians W 9-4 49-36 +3.5 W1 Dallas Keuchel Carlos Carrasco

The Astros will play on the road through the All-Star Break. After Monday's win, they face the Cleveland Indians for three more games followed by three games against the Tampa Bay Rays.

2nd. Los Angeles Angels (44-38, 9-3 since 6/22)

The Angels accepted general manager Jerry Dipoto's resignation after suffering one too many indignities at the hands of manager Mike Scioscia. The Halos turn to one of their former general managers, Bill Stoneman, on an interim basis to guide them through the trade deadline and the rest of this season.

Despite the front office turmoil, the Angels were best in the West since June 22, moving up to second place and gaining 2½ games on the Astros. The Angels took two of three from the Astros, two of three from the Mariners, two of three from the Yankees, and swept the Rangers.

Left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Heaney was called up to join the rotation in place of the injured Jered Weaver. The Angels won both of his starts 2-1, and he has given up two earned runs in 13 innings.

C.J. Cron has surged in his return to the Angels roster. Since June 29, Cron is 9-for-23 with two doubles and two home runs and nine RBIs.

Angels results since June 22
Date Opponent Result Angels rec. Div. GB Streak Angels starter Opp. starter
22-Jun vs Astros W 4-3 36-35 4.5 W1 Hector Santiago Brett Oberholtzer
23-Jun vs Astros L 3-13 36-36 5.5 L1 C.J. Wilson Collin McHugh
24-Jun vs Astros W 2-1 (13) 37-36 4.5 W1 Andrew Heaney Lance McCullers
25-Jun OFF DAY 5.0 OFF DAY
26-Jun vs Mariners L 1-3 37-37 5.0 L1 Matt Shoemaker Taijuan Walker
27-Jun vs Mariners W 4-2 38-37 4.0 W1 Garrett Richards J.A. Happ
28-Jun vs Mariners W 3-2 (10) 39-37 4.0 W2 Hector Santiago Felix Hernandez
29-Jun vs Yankees W 4-1 40-37 4.0 W3 C.J. Wilson CC Sabathia
30-Jun vs Yankees W 2-1 41-37 5.0 W4 Andrew Heaney Ivan Nova
1-Jul vs Yankees L 1-3 41-38 5.0 L1 Matt Shoemaker Nathan Eovaldi
3-Jul at Rangers W 8-2 42-38 5.0 W1 Garrett Richards Chi Chi Gonzalez
4-Jul at Rangers W 13-0 43-38 4.0 W2 Hector Santiago Wandy Rodriguez
5-Jul at Rangers W 12-6 44-38 3.0 W3 C.J. Wilson Colby Lewis

The Angels travel up to the break, visiting Coors Field for two games against the Rockies and flying to Safeco Field for four games against the Seattle Mariners.

3rd. Texas Rangers (41-42, 4-9 since 6/22)

The Rangers went 0-6 against division opponents in this 13-game stretch, which meant they fell from second to third place and allowed the Astros to move from 3½ games ahead to seven games ahead.

The Rangers have gotten a lot of players back, including Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Delino DeShields. Feliz was designated for assignment upon Matt Harrison's activation after returning to the club for just a couple of days.

Josh Hamilton appears to have picked up where he left off after the injury. In three games, he is 4-for-11 with a double and has struck out five times. That brings his season line, over 10 games, to .303/.379/.576 in 37 plate appearances.

Rangers results since June 22
Date Opponent Result Rangers rec. Div. GB Streak Rangers starter Opp. starter
22-Jun OFF DAY 3.0 OFF DAY
23-Jun vs A's L 6-8 37-34 4.0 L3 Chi Chi Gonzalez Jesse Chavez
24-Jun vs A's L 2-8 37-35 4.0 L4 Wandy Rodriguez Kendall Graveman
25-Jun vs A's L 3-6 37-36 5.0 L5 Colby Lewis Sonny Gray
26-Jun at Blue Jays L 2-12 37-37 5.0 L6 Nick Martinez Mark Buerhle
27-Jun at Blue Jays W 4-0 38-37 4.0 W1 Yovani Gallardo Matt Boyd
28-Jun at Blue Jays L 2-3 38-38 5.0 L1 Chi Chi Gonzalez Drew Hutchison
29-Jun at Orioles W 8-1 39-38 5.0 W1 Wandy Rodriguez Bud Norris
30-Jun at Orioles W 8-6 40-38 5.0 W2 Colby Lewis Miguel Gonzalez
1-Jul at Orioles L 2-4 40-39 6.0 L1 Nick Martinez Wei-Yin Chen
2-Jul at Orioles W 2-0 41-39 5.5 W1 Yovani Gallardo Kevin Gausman
3-Jul vs Angels L 2-8 41-40 6.5 L1 Chi Chi Gonzalez Garrett Richards
4-Jul vs Angels L 0-13 41-41 6.5 L2 Wandy Rodriguez Hector Santiago
5-Jul vs Angels L 6-12 41-42 6.5 L3 Colby Lewis C.J. Wilson

Coming up, the Rangers host the Arizona Diamondbacks for two games and the San Diego Padres for three.

4th. Seattle Mariners (38-44, 6-7 since 6/22)

The Seattle Mariners could only scratch together a 3-4 record against AL West opponents in Anaheim and Oakland. Paired with losing two of three to the Royals, a two-game sweep of the Padres, and losing the first of three games to the Tigers, the Mariners have fallen from 8½ behind Houston to 10 games back.

The Mariners welcomed Hisashi Iwakuma back to their rotation on Monday night, a 5-12 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Iwakuma had not made a start since April 20. He replaced Roenis Elias.

USA Today's Jorge Ortiz followed up on Eric Chavez's report that second baseman Robinson Cano has been dealing with a stomach ailment since the end of last season that has made it difficult for him to eat. Lookout Landing's Colin O'Keefe noted Cano had said his noticeable weight loss was purposeful, but wondered if the continued ailment has caused him to slip past the weight Cano wants to be at.

Mariners results since June 22
Date Opponent Result Mariners rec. Div. GB Streak Mariners starter Opp. starter
22-Jun vs Royals L 1-4 32-39 8.5 L2 Felix Hernandez Joe Blanton
23-Jun vs Royals W 7-0 33-39 8.5 W1 Mike Montogmery Jeremy Guthrie
24-Jun vs Royals L 2-8 33-40 8.5 L1 Roenis Elias Danny Duffy
25-Jun OFF DAY 9.0 OFF DAY
26-Jun at Angels W 3-1 34-40 8.0 W1 Taijuan Walker Matt Shoemaker
27-Jun at Angels L 2-4 34-41 8.0 L1 J.A. Happ Garrett Richards
28-Jun at Angels L 2-3 (10) 34-42 9.0 L2 Felix Hernandez Hector Santiago
29-Jun OFF DAY 9.5 OFF DAY
30-Jun at Padres W 5-0 35-42 9.5 W1 Mike Montogmery Ian Kennedy
1-Jul at Padres W 7-0 36-42 9.5 W2 Taijuan Walker James Shields
2-Jul at A's L 0-4 36-43 10.0 L1 Roenis Elias Scott Kazmir
3-Jul at A's W 9-5 37-43 10.0 W1 J.A. Happ Jesse Chavez
4-Jul at A's L 0-2 37-44 10.0 L1 Felix Hernandez Kendall Graveman
5-Jul at A's W 2-1 38-44 9.0 W1 Mike Montogmery Chris Bassitt
6-Jul vs Tigers L 5-12 38-45 10.0 L1 Hisashi Iwakuma Alfredo Simon

After dropping Monday night's game to the Detroit Tiger, the Mariners play two more against the Motor City Kitties, followed by four games against the Angels to take Seattle to the break.

5th. Oakland Athletics (38-47, 7-6 since 6/22)

This 13-game period started out promising with a three-game road sweep of the Texas Rangers to extend their win streak to five games. Upon their return home, however, Oakland could not muster enough runs to overcome the Royals in any of their three games, took two of three from the Rockies, and split four games with the Mariners. A 5-2 record against the AL West is not bad, however, and it puts the A's at 21-24 against the AL West for the season.

Still, the A's have slipped from 10½ back to 11 back in the division. There's usually at least one team that makes a huge second half run after a shoddy start. That team has often been the A's in the last 15 years. We'll see how it goes.

A's results since June 22
Date Opponent Result A's rec. Div. GB Streak A's starter Opp. Starter
22-Jun OFF DAY 10.0 OFF DAY
23-Jun at Rangers W 8-6 32-41 10.0 W3 Jesse Chavez Chi Chi Gonzalez
24-Jun at Rangers W 8-2 33-41 9.0 W4 Kendall Graveman Wandy Rodriguez
25-Jun at Rangers W 6-3 34-41 9.0 W5 Sonny Gray Colby Lewis
26-Jun vs Royals L 2-5 34-42 9.0 L1 Jesse Hahn Edinson Volquez
27-Jun vs Royals L 2-3 34-43 9.0 L2 Scott Kazmir Chris Young
28-Jun vs Royals L 3-5 34-44 10.0 L3 Jesse Chavez Jeremy Guthrie
29-Jun vs Rockies W 7-1 35-44 10.0 W1 Kendall Graveman David Hale
30-Jun vs Rockies L 1-2 35-45 11.0 L1 Chris Bassitt Jorge De La Rosa
1-Jul vs Rockies W 4-1 36-45 11.0 W1 Jesse Hahn Chad Bettis
2-Jul vs Mariners W 4-0 37-45 10.5 W2 Scott Kazmir Roenis Elias
3-Jul vs Mariners L 5-9 37-46 11.5 L1 Jesse Chavez J.A. Happ
4-Jul vs Mariners W 2-0 38-46 10.5 W1 Kendall Graveman Felix Hernandez
5-Jul vs Mariners L 1-2 38-47 10.5 L1 Chris Bassitt Mike Montogmery
6-Jul OFF DAY 11.0 OFF DAY

The A's travel to New York for three games at Yankee Stadium and Cleveland for three games at Progressive Field before the All-Star Break. All-Stars Sonny Gray and Stephen Vogt will have a conveniently short trip from Cleveland to Cincinnati for the Mid-Summer Classic.