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Oakland A's slide down into 3rd: AL West week 4 division recap

The Oakland Athletics fell to third place, but stayed with the lead group with 22 weeks to go.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Twenty-six games into 2015, the Oakland A's were in third place at 11-15, already 7.5 games behind the Houston Astros on May 3. This year, the A's are in third place at 13-13, but stand just 1.5 games behind the Texas Rangers. For the Houston Astros their 8-17 record is a 10-game swing from the 18-7 they earned at this point last year after rattling off 10 consecutive wins:

Standings through May 1
Actual FanGraphs CoolStandings Projection
W L GB Since April 25 RS/G RA/G Place W L DIV POFF
Texas 14 11 -- 4-2 4.5 4.0 4th 79.2 82.8 13.9% 20.7%
Seattle 13 11 0.5 4-2 4.2 3.3 1st 83.0 79.0 33.8% 43.7%
A's 13 13 1.5 3-4 3.5 3.8 3rd 80.7 81.3 19.3% 28.0%
LA Angels 12 13 2.0 4-2 3.6 4.0 5th 79.1 82.9 12.9% 19.7%
Houston 8 17 6.0 2-4 3.7 5.0 2nd 80.7 81.3 20.1% 29.0%
DIV = Percent chance of winning division. POFF = Percent chance of going to postseason, including the Wild Card Game.

Oakland's chances of reaching the postseason slid back slightly with the Rangers, Mariners, and Angels all picking up 1.5 games on the A's, but nobody is running away with the division yet, nor is anyone out of it. Don't forget that Texas was 9.5 games out of first place on May 3 last year.

Four weeks done out of 26, here's our weekly jog through the division to see what's new with the A's and their division opponents:

1. Texas Rangers (14-11)

The streaky Rangers rattled off a four game win streak to make it two out of three each against the Yankees and Angels for the week:

Rangers results since April 25
Date Opponent Result Rangers rec. Div. GB Streak Rangers starter Opp. starter
25-Apr vs NYY L 1-3 10-10 0.5 L4 LHP Cesar Ramos RHP Nathan Eovaldi
26-Apr vs NYY W 10-1 11-10 0.5 W1 RHP A.J. Griffin RHP Luis Severino
27-Apr vs NYY W 3-2 12-10 up 0.5 W2 LHP Martin Perez LHP CC Sabathia
28-Apr OFF DAY up 0.5 OFF DAY
29-Apr vs LAA W 4-2 13-10 up 0.5 W3 RHP Colby Lewis LHP Hector Santiago
30-Apr vs LAA W 7-2 14-10 up 0.5 W4 LHP Derek Holland RHP Matt Shoemaker
1-May vs LAA L 6-9 14-11 up 0.5 L1 LHP Cole Hamels RHP Garrett Richards

Most of the news for Texas revolves around players trying to recover from injury.

Josh Hamilton was scheduled to play five innings for the Frisco RoughRiders on Saturday, but was taken out after four innings with left knee soreness, writes the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He got a cortisone shot and "the hope is he can return to game action next week."

Also in that Star-Telegram article, Shin-Soo Choo will start a rehab assignment on May 9 and could be back as early as May 20. The A's face the Rangers just before then at the Coliseum, May 16-18.

Yu Darvish made his first rehab start on Sunday with Frisco, writes the Dallas Morning News. Darvish pitched two innings, as scheduled, and hopes to return on May 27.

This week, the Rangers have a seven-game road trip with four games in Toronto and three games in Detroit.

2. Seattle Mariners (13-11, 0.5 GB)

The Mariners took two out of three from the Astros and the Royals:

Mariners results since April 25
Date Opponent Result Mariners rec. Div. GB Streak Mariners starter Opp. starter
25-Apr vs HOU W 3-2 10-9 up 0.5 W2 RHP Taijuan Walker RHP Doug Fister
26-Apr vs HOU W 11-1 11-9 up 0.5 W3 RHP Nathan Karns LHP Dallas Keuchel
27-Apr vs HOU L 4-7 11-10 0.5 L1 RHP Hisashi Iwakuma RHP Collin McHugh
28-Apr OFF DAY 0.5 OFF DAY
29-Apr vs KCR W 1-0 12-10 0.5 W1 RHP Felix Hernandez RHP Kris Medlen
30-Apr vs KCR W 6-0 13-10 0.5 W2 LHP Wade Miley RHP Yordano Ventura
1-May vs KCR L 1-4 13-11 0.5 L1 RHP Taijuan Walker RHP Ian Kennedy

The major news this week for the Seattle Mariners was an ownership change, or I should say an ownership reconfiguration. Nintendo of America is selling most of its majority stake in the Mariners to the existing ownership group. CEO Howard Lincoln is stepping down and handing control to John Stanton.

Reliever Joaquin Benoit was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, with Mayckol Guaipe called up.

The Mariners visit the A's for three games and then travel to Houston for four.

3. Oakland A's (13-13, 1.5 GB)

The only team in the division without an off day last week, the A's lost three out of four the the Tigers, but came home to take two out of three from the Astros:

A's results since April 25
Date Opponent Result A's rec. Div. GB Streak A's starter Opp. Starter
25-Apr at DET L 3-7 10-10 0.5 L3 RHP Kendall Graveman RHP Jordan Zimmermann
26-Apr at DET W 5-1 11-10 0.5 W1 LHP Rich Hill RHP Mike Pelfrey
27-Apr at DET L 4-9 11-11 1.0 L1 RHP Sonny Gray RHP Justin Verlander
28-Apr at DET L 3-7 11-12 1.5 L2 RHP Chris Bassitt RHP Anibal Sanchez
29-Apr vs HOU W 7-4 12-12 1.5 W1 LHP Sean Manaea RHP Mike Fiers
30-Apr vs HOU W 2-0 13-12 1.5 W2 RHP Jesse Hahn RHP Chris Devenski
1-May vs HOU L 1-2 13-13 1.5 L1 LHP Rich Hill RHP Doug Fister

The A's dealt with a large amount of adversity in the rotation, which had knock-on effects to the bullpen. Sonny Gray suffered through the shortest start of his career on April 27, two innings, and Chris Bassitt could barely get through four with what turned out to be a partially torn UCL that may require Tommy John surgery.

With Eric Surkamp demoted to Triple-A and Chris Bassitt going on the disabled list, the A's called up top pitching prospect Sean Manaea to make his major league debut and recalled Jesse Hahn from Triple-A. Manaea was creditable, if a little wild, in his first start. Hahn was brilliant, throwing 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball.

Another player we got to see for the first time was reliever Andrew Triggs, claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles and used as an eighth reliever for a few days last week. Triggs owns an unusual release point on the extreme third base of the rubber.

On the injury front, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez impressed in his third rehab start from his 2015 shoulder surgery. He could return as soon as May 20, the second of four games against the Yankees at the Coliseum.

Third baseman Danny Valencia feels like he could be ready to play now, but the disabled list requires him to work. He'll play three games with Stockton before joining the A's on the road trip to be activated Friday.

The A's finish the homestand with three games against the Mariners, take Thursday off, and start a three-city road trip with three games against the Baltimore Orioles.

4. Los Angeles Angels (12-13, 2.0 GB)

The Angels swept the Royals but lost two out of three to the Rangers:

Angels results since April 25
Date Opponent Result Angels rec. Div. GB Streak Angels starter Opp. Starter
25-Apr vs. KCR W 6-1 9-11 1.5 W1 RHP Garrett Richards RHP Ian Kennedy
26-Apr vs. KCR W 9-4 10-11 1.5 W2 RHP Jered Weaver RHP Edinson Volquez
27-Apr vs. KCR W 4-2 11-11 1.0 W3 RHP Nick Tropeano RHP Chris Young
28-Apr OFF DAY 1.0 OFF DAY
29-Apr at TEX L 2-4 11-12 2.0 L1 LHP Hector Santiago RHP Colby Lewis
30-Apr at TEX L 2-7 11-13 3.0 L2 RHP Matt Shoemaker LHP Derek Holland
1-May at TEX W 9-6 12-13 2.0 W1 RHP Garrett Richards LHP Cole Hamels

It's hard to believe that a team with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on it has scored one fewer run through 25 games than the A's did, but here we are. Our colleagues at Halos Heaven are coming to terms with the idea that the Angels lineup besides Mike Trout is very bad:

As Turk's Teeth pointed out yesterday, the Angels currently have three of the top 10 worst batters in ALL OF MLB right now in their starting lineup every game(Johnny GiavotellaC.J. Cron and Albert Pujols). Three offensive bottomless pits that Mike Scioscia happily dives into when he pencils them into every single game, one of whom the team will still be paying an insane amount of money to in the year 2021.

There are a few options to shake thing up from the top of the Angels minor league system. But it's not much.

What won't help the Angels are injuries that just keep piling up. Huston Street went on the disabled list with an oblique injury and could miss 3-6 weeks. Craig Gentry is also on the disabled list, which gave the Angels a chance to purchase Shane Robinson's contract so as not to lose him on an opt out. With Daniel Nava out, that's both halves of what was already a very questionable left field platoon out injured. Nava is on the mend, however. He starts a rehab assignment this week.

The Angels do have a rotation crisis on their hands. They just optioned Matt Shoemaker to Triple-A now that he has posted a 9.15 ERA in five starts. They don't need a fifth starter until May 14, which is good news because the reinforcements they were hoping to get have stayed injured.

Andrew Heaney is now months from return, and will get a platelet rich plasma injection. C.J. Wilson was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Tyler Skaggs' recovery from Tommy John surgery has hit a snag, and his throwing shoulder will be evaluated.

The Angels travel to Milwaukee for three games to finish a Central Time Zone road trip, take Thursday off, then return to Anaheim for three games against the Rays.

5. Houston Astros (8-17, 6.0 GB)

The Astros lost two of three each to the Mariners and A's, and yet again had the worst week in the division:

Astros results since April 25
Date Opponent Result Astros rec. Div. GB Streak Astros starter Opp. starter
25-Apr at SEA L 2-3 6-14 4.5 L2 RHP Doug Fister RHP Taijuan Walker
26-Apr at SEA L 1-11 6-15 5.5 L3 LHP Dallas Keuchel RHP Nathan Karns
27-Apr at SEA W 7-4 7-15 5.0 W1 RHP Collin McHugh RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
28-Apr OFF DAY 5.0 OFF DAY
29-Apr at OAK L 4-7 7-16 6.0 L1 RHP Mike Fiers LHP Sean Manaea
30-Apr at OAK L 0-2 7-17 7.0 L2 RHP Chris Devenski RHP Jesse Hahn
1-May at OAK W 2-1 8-17 6.0 W1 RHP Doug Fister LHP Rich Hill

The Astros still have not won consecutive games. They lost yet another start by Dallas Keuchel to take their record to 2-3 when he's on the mound. Keuchel gave up five runs in six innings, and the game got so out of hand that backup catcher Erik Kratz pitched, sporting a knuckleball.

Houston began to make changes to their rotation, putting in Chris Devenski against the A's on Saturday to make his first major league start and pushing Scott Feldman to the bullpen.

Lance McCullers is pitching in extended spring training as he rehabilitates from shoulder soreness. He is scheduled to go 60 to 75 pitches at their Florida facility on Monday.

The Astros host the Twins for three games and the Mariners for four contests as games 4-10 in a 17-game stretch without a day off.