Despite a four-game losing streak to open the second week of the 26-week season, the Oakland Athletics at 6-7 are only a game back of the Texas Rangers after taking the last two games against the Kansas City Royals. While the A's are conceding the fewest runs per game, they're also scoring the fewest runs per game. As a result they've played seven one-run games, most in baseball by two, and own a record of 4-3 in them.
|Standings through April 17|
|Actual||FanGraphs CoolStandings Projection|
|W||L||GB||Since April 11||RS/G||RA/G||Place||W||L||POFF||DIV|
|POFF = Percent chance of going to postseason. DIV = Percent chance of winning division.|
Here's our weekly jog through the division to see what's new with the A's and their division opponents this week:
1. Texas Rangers (7-6)
The Rangers went 3-3 for the week, while their Sunday afternoon game was postponed due to forecasted rain in Arlington. The game will be made up on June 20, which forces the Rangers to play 20 consecutive days between June 3-22 and have only one off day from June 3 to July 10. The Orioles will be interrupting an eight-game homestand to make the one-day trip to Texas.
|Rangers results since April 11|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Rangers rec.||Div. GB||Streak||Rangers starter||Opp. starter|
|11-Apr||at SEA||W 7-3||4-4||Tied||W1||RHP Colby Lewis||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma|
|12-Apr||at SEA||W 8-0||5-4||up 0.5||W2||LHP Derek Holland||LHP Wade Miley|
|13-Apr||at SEA||L 2-4 (10)||5-5||0.5||L1||RHP A.J. Griffin||RHP Taijuan Walker|
|14-Apr||vs BAL||W 6-3||6-5||Tied||W1||LHP Cole Hamels||RHP Chris Tillman|
|15-Apr||vs BAL||L 5-11||6-6||Tied||L1||LHP Martin Perez||RHP Vance Worley|
|16-Apr||vs BAL||W 8-4||7-6||up 1.0||W1||RHP Colby Lewis||RHP Yovani Gallardo|
|17-Apr||vs BAL||Postponed to 6/20 -- Rain||up 1.0||Postponed to 6/20 -- Rain|
The Rangers started the week without outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, gone at least until May. In his place, top prospect Nomar Mazara has more than picked up where Choo left off, going 12-for-31 with a home run and a double with two walks and three strikeouts.
Later in the week, Texas also extended the contract of third baseman Adrian Beltre through the 2018 season on a two-year, $36 million deal. Another of their top prospects, Joey Gallo, is primarily a third baseman and would seem to be blocked from that position but he has played in the outfield and at first base. Rangers GM Jon Daniels expects that Gallo will have a position when he's ready to be called up, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
Finally, the rehab for ace right-hander Yu Darvish continues to progress well, with Darvish throwing a 50-pitch batting practice on Sunday, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. T.R. Sullivan tweets that Darvish could begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on April 26. Grant writes that if everything goes perfectly, Darvish could be back by May 11 after three minor league starts, though May 16 might be more realistic.
After a Monday off day, the Rangers host the Houston Astros for three games and then travel to Chicago to play the White Sox for a brief three-game road trip.
2. Oakland A's (6-7, 1.0 GB)
The A's were swept over three games by the Angels but took two of three from the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals to go 2-4 for the week:
|A's results since April 11|
|Date||Opponent||Result||A's rec.||Div. GB||Streak||A's starter||Opp. Starter|
|11-Apr||vs LAA||L 1-4||4-4||Tied||L1||RHP Sonny Gray||RHP Nick Tropeano|
|12-Apr||vs LAA||L 4-5||4-5||1.0||L2||RHP Kendall Graveman||LHP Hector Santiago|
|13-Apr||vs LAA||L 1-5||4-6||1.5||L3||LHP Eric Surkamp||RHP Matt Shoemaker|
|14-Apr||OFF DAY||1.5||OFF DAY|
|15-Apr||vs KCR||L 2-4||4-7||1.5||L4||LHP Rich Hill||RHP Edinson Volquez|
|16-Apr||vs KCR||W 5-3||5-7||1.5||W1||RHP Sonny Gray||RHP Chris Young|
|17-Apr||vs KCR||W 3-2||6-7||1.0||W2||RHP Chris Bassitt||RHP Kris Medlen|
After ending the first week with a one-game lead over the Texas Rangers, the A's fell two games back. Offense continues to be the issue, and the club has yet to score more than six runs in a game. On the other hand, the A's have yet to concede more than six runs in a game.
The most disappointing loss of this six-game stretch has to be Monday night's loss of Sonny Gray's start to Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano. Tropeano was slated to start the year in Triple-A Salt Lake until Andrew Heaney's strained flexor put Heaney on the disabled list. Oakland just couldn't get anything going there.
The most satisfying win out of the two should be Sunday's win, with the A's scratching out a run at a time to come back from 2-0 down. The comeback started with the A's scoring a run on a strikeout/passed ball for the first time in Oakland history, according to A's Baseball Information Manager Mike Selleck. Oakland scored a second time when Jed Lowrie hit a pinch-hit seventh inning RBI single on his birthday to score Chris Coghlan after he doubled. The go-ahead rally started after Billy Burns hit his first extra base hit of 2016, a triple down the right field line, to lead off the eighth inning. Josh Reddick drove him in on a sacrifice fly.
Manager Bob Melvin confirmed something he mentioned in spring training, that he'll be playing the matchups a lot more in the eighth and ninth inning and treating Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson more like co-closers, according to Willie Bans for MLB.com. Doolittle has struggled with command in the early going, giving up three home runs on poorly located fastballs so far in seven appearances.
On the injury front, Eric Sogard is probably going to end up having left knee surgery after he started the year on the disabled list with shoulder problems, writes the Bay Area News Group's John Hickey, though Sogard is seeking a second opinion on a diagnosis of "loose bodies in the knee near the patella tendon." Sogard says he's played through pain in the knee for the last couple of years. The infielder would be targeting a mid-July return to action, Hickey adds.
Meanwhile, Sogard continues to earn service time while on the DL, and he earns the right to refuse minor league assignment if he stays on the DL for 108 days, or July 19, or around the target for his return. If Sogard's rehab stretches out to around that date, watch out for a possible MLBPA grievance if Sogard is activated and optioned to Triple-A just before that date on the basis that he was not actually fit to play. On the flip side, let's see how long it takes for Sogard to get his second opinion and schedule his surgery.
Henderson Alvarez is also progressing well, writes MLB.com's Jane Lee, after he threw a two-inning simulated game on April 15. He threw a 31-pitch bullpen session on Sunday, writes A's Spanish language broadcaster Manolo Hernandez Douen, and will make his first rehab start on Wednesday. While there is a 30-day limit on pitcher rehabilitation assignments in the minors, Alvarez does have an option year remaining if the front office wants him to have even more minor league time than that.
The A's are off on Monday to travel to New York to begin a three-city road trip. Oakland plays three against the Yankees, three against the Blue Jays, and four the following week against the Detroit Tigers.
T-3. Los Angeles Angels (5-7, 1.5 GB)
The Angels swept the A's but were then swept by the Twins, Minnesota's first three wins of the 2016 campaign. The Angels were 3-3 for the week:
|Angels results since April 11|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Angels rec.||Div. GB||Streak||Angels starter||Opp. Starter|
|11-Apr||at OAK||W 4-1||3-4||0.5||W2||RHP Nick Tropeano||RHP Sonny Gray|
|12-Apr||at OAK||W 5-4||4-4||0.5||W3||LHP Hector Santiago||RHP Kendall Graveman|
|13-Apr||at OAK||W 5-1||5-4||up 0.5||W4||RHP Matt Shoemaker||LHP Eric Surkamp|
|14-Apr||OFF DAY||Tied||OFF DAY|
|15-Apr||at MIN||L 4-5||5-5||Tied||L1||RHP Garrett Richards||LHP Tommy Milone|
|16-Apr||at MIN||L 4-6||5-6||1.0||L2||RHP Jered Weaver||RHP Ricky Nolasco|
|17-Apr||at MIN||L 2-3 (12)||5-7||1.5||L3||RHP Nick Tropeano||RHP Kyle Gibson|
Like the A's, the Angels played a lot of low-scoring, tight games this week, going 1-2 in one-run contests. The Angels are performing almost as poorly as the A's in the run-scoring department. Their .296 on base percentage is 11th in the American League, but they're performing very poorly in getting extra base hits. Their .098 isolated slugging is last in the AL.
Outfielder Daniel Nava was placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left knee, writes Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times, though he probably won't need more than the minimum time to return, which would be May 1. Nava has had pain in the knee before, and it flared up after he hit the outfield wall on Tuesday at the Coliseum. The Halos called up their last outfielder on the 40-man roster, Rafael Ortega, to take his spot on the roster. Ortega is 1-for-8 with a walk and a strikeout so far. In other injury news:
Angels CJ Wilson (shoulder) is throwing this week in Arizona, but has not moved beyond 60 feet. Still has a long way to go.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) April 15, 2016
The Angels wrap up their three-city road trip with four games against the Chicago White Sox. They return to Angel Stadium of Anaheim to face the Seattle Mariners for three.
T-3. Seattle Mariners (5-7, 1.5 GB)
After getting swept by the A's, the Seattle Mariners continued their home winless streak for two games more by dropping the first two of three to the Texas Rangers. The Mariners then went to Yankee Stadium and won two of three to finish the week 3-3:
|Mariners results since April 11|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Mariners rec.||Div. GB||Streak||Mariners starter||Opp. starter|
|11-Apr||vs TEX||L 3-7||2-5||1.5||L4||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma||RHP Colby Lewis|
|12-Apr||vs TEX||L 0-8||2-6||2.5||L5||LHP Wade Miley||LHP Derek Holland|
|13-Apr||vs TEX||W 4-2 (10)||3-6||2.0||W1||RHP Taijuan Walker||RHP A.J. Griffin|
|14-Apr||OFF DAY||2.0||OFF DAY|
|15-Apr||at NYY||W 7-1||4-6||1.0||W2||RHP Nathan Karns||RHP Luis Severino|
|16-Apr||at NYY||W 3-2||5-6||1.0||W3||RHP Felix Hernandez||LHP CC Sabathia|
|17-Apr||at NYY||L 3-4||5-7||1.5||L1||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma||RHP Masahiro Tanaka|
The Mariners finally won a Felix Hernandez start, though would you believe that Hernandez is leading the majors in walks allowed with 13? I tried to find some bit of news on the Mariners, but all I could find on Lookout Landing was existential dread.
After a day off Monday, Seattle continues its three-city road trip with visits to Cleveland and Anaheim for three games each.
5. Houston Astros (5-8, 2.0 GB)
The Astros lost three of four to the Royals but won two of three against the Tigers to finish the week 3-4.
|Astros results since April 11|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Astros rec.||Div. GB||Streak||Astros starter||Opp. starter|
|11-Apr||vs KCR||W 8-2||3-4||0.5||W1||RHP Collin McHugh||RHP Chris Young|
|12-Apr||vs KCR||L 2-3||3-5||1.5||L1||RHP Mike Fiers||RHP Kris Medlin|
|13-Apr||vs KCR||L 2-4||3-6||2.0||L2||RHP Scott Feldman||RHP Yordano Ventura|
|14-Apr||vs KCR||L 2-6||3-7||2.5||L3||RHP Doug Fister||RHP Ian Kennedy|
|15-Apr||vs DET||W 1-0||4-7||1.5||W1||LHP Dallas Keuchel||RHP Mike Pelfrey|
|16-Apr||vs DET||L 3-5||4-8||2.5||L1||RHP Collin McHugh||RHP Justin Verlander|
|17-Apr||vs DET||W 5-4||5-8||2.0||W1||RHP Mike Fiers||RHP Anibal Sanchez|
Lance McCullers continues to rehab from a shoulder injury, and could return to the Astros around the end of April, though he did have a rehab start pushed back and threw a bullpen session instead, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
The Astros have Monday off, then visit the Rangers for three games before hosting the Red Sox for three.