The Houston Astros entered the week 10 games down and facing the possibility of falling out of range of even the third place Angels. The Astros instead got up out of their mandatory eight-count and exit the week tied for fourth place with the A's and 7.5 games out.
Here are the Week 8 standings, with 18 weeks to go:
|Standings through May 22|
|Actual||FanGraphs CoolStandings Projection|
|W||L||GB||Since May 23||RS/G||RA/G||Place||W||L||DIV||POFF|
|DIV = Percent chance of winning division. POFF = Percent chance of going to postseason, including the Wild Card Game.|
Houston's week returns them to a projected finish over .500. The Mariners go back to being a coin-flip to win the division, with both their 2-4 week and the loss of Leonys Martin to the disabled list dragging down their chances. The A's chances to win the division go from around 28-to-1 to 31-to-1.
Here's our weekly jog through the AL West to see what's new with the A's and their division opponents:
1. Texas Rangers (29-21)
Texas won two out of three each against the Angels and Pirates:
|Rangers results since May 23|
|Date||Opponent||W/L||RS||RA||Inn||Rangers rec.||Div. GB||Streak|
|29-May||vs PIT||W||6||2||29-21||up 0.5||W2|
The Rangers re-take first place, though they've taken some new hits to their roster over the last week. Shin-Soo Choo returns to the disabled list shortly after his activation and will be out for three-to-four weeks. Drew Stubbs goes on the DL with a sprained toe and will be out for one-to-three weeks. Rougned Odor's suspension was reduced by a game to seven and began last Friday against the Pirates.
But the Rangers got Yu Darvish back, and he was great in five innings for the Rangers last Saturday in their 6-2 win over Pittsburgh. Catcher Robinson Chirinos is ahead of schedule to be activated from a broken forearm, and could return when he is first eligible to be activated on June 9 (via T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com).
Texas does lose Josh Hamilton for the year, however, to season-ending knee surgery (via Gerry Fraley, Dallas Morning News).
The Rangers are in Cleveland for three games, take Thursday off, and come back to Texas for three Games against Seattle.
2. Seattle Mariners (28-21, 0.5 GB)
The Mariners won two out of three against the A's, but were swept by the AL-worst Twins to tie the Angels for the worst week in the division.
|Mariners results since May 23|
|Date||Opponent||W/L||RS||RA||Inn||Mariners rec.||Div. GB||Streak|
|23-May||vs OAK||L||0||5||26-18||up 1.5||L1|
|24-May||vs OAK||W||6||5||27-18||up 1.5||W1|
|25-May||vs OAK||W||13||3||28-18||up 1.5||W2|
|26-May||OFF DAY||up 1.5||OFF|
|27-May||vs MIN||L||2||7||28-19||up 1.5||L1|
|28-May||vs MIN||L||5||6||28-20||up 0.5||L2|
Seattle's big story is losing Leonys Martin to the disabled list after he strained his hamstring stealing second base against the A's last Wednesday. Martin had already exceeded his career high in home runs, with his 9th home run Seattle's walk off against Ryan Madson.
The "Is King Felix still elite?" question continues after Felix Hernandez gave up six runs in six innings to the Twins (THE TWINS!) on Friday. He did only gave up one base on balls, but he's still in the AL's top 10 for walks allowed.
The Mariners plays their four-game home-and-home interleague series against "historic rival" San Diego, beginning with two games in Seattle on Monday. After the two games in San Diego, they travel to Texas for three against the Rangers.
3. L.A. Angels (22-28, 7.0 GB)
The Angels lost two of three games each to the Rangers and to the Astros, tying Seattle for the division's worst week.
|Angels results since May 23|
|Date||Opponent||W/L||RS||RA||Inn||Angels rec.||Div. GB||Streak|
Things are bad enough for the Angels without their good players faltering. Hector Santiago failed to get out of the third inning of his second consecutive start in the Halos' 15-9 loss to Texas. Yunel Escobar failed to garner an extra-base hit or draw a walk this week, and then exited Sunday's game with a bruised wrist that has him day to day.
L.A. announced a setback for C.J. Wilson, who will undergo another MRI on his shoulder (via Jeff Fletcher, Orange County Register). The Angels might get Huston Street back Monday, but it feels like a desperation move to rescue a terrible bullpen:
The Angels are considering activating Huston Street tomorrow. His fastball did not surpass 85 mph in one extended-spring inning yesterday.— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) May 29, 2016
Tim Lincecum will make a couple of starts in the Angels minor league system, and is on track to start for the big league club on June 12 (via Pedro Moura, L.A. Times). His second start for the Angels would be on June 18 in Oakland.
The Angels host the Tigers for three games, take Thursday off, then travel to Pittsburgh for three interleague games against the Pirates.
T-4. Oakland A's (22-29, 7.5 GB)
While the A's lost their non-Rich Hill starts to the Mariners, they did win a Jesse Hahn start against the Tigers over the weekend to wrap up a 3-3 week, ending it a half-game closer to the top of the division.
|A's results since May 23|
|Date||Opponent||W/L||RS||RA||Inn||A's rec.||Div. GB||Streak|
The goal for the A's this week was to stay afloat while Josh Reddick and Sonny Gray joined 11 other A's on the disabled list and Henderson Alvarez remained after coming to the precipice of returning. And they did, they kept the deficit against the Mariners within double digits, and while they missed a chance to grow even closer with Tuesday's blown save, their position is still within the realm of the possible.
The injury news for those three was pretty good. We first learned Reddick fractured just the tip of his thumb and Alvarez's MRI coming back clean. Then, Sonny Gray was able to get back on the mound for a bullpen session, and the A's don't think he'll miss much time beyond when he's eligible to return on June 5.
Oakland hosts the Twins for three games beginning Monday, take Thursday off, then travel to Houston for three games.
T-4. Houston Astros (22-29, 7.5 GB)
The Astros enjoyed the best week in the AL West, sweeping the Baltimore Orioles over three games and taking two of three against the Angels in Anaheim.
|Astros results since May 23|
|Date||Opponent||W/L||RS||RA||Inn||Astros rec.||Div. GB||Streak|
The scary part of the Houston Astros is that their pitching is starting to come around. In 12 games over the last two weeks, Astros pitchers own an AL-best 3.34 ERA. Astros starters haven't been that great in those two weeks (4.42 ERA), but their bullpen has strung together some impressive performances, going 4-0 with six saves and a 1.61 ERA. Michael Feliz earned two of those wins in the classic "fireman" role, pitching seven scoreless innings over the last two weeks.
The only reason the Astros didn't do even better over the last two weeks were the three consecutive 2-1 losses Houston suffered, one against White Sox ace Chris Sale and the other two against Texas starters Colby Lewis and Cesar Ramos. Don't sleep on the Astros, especially if they can get their offense to offer more consistent support.
Hopefully helping that effort is the impending return of outfielder Carlos Gomez (via Jake Kaplan, Houston Chronicle) from the disabled list, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. The Astros hope that Gomez's offensive struggles -- he's .182/.238/.248 with no home runs in 132 plate appearances -- are left behind now that he's recovered from a bruised left rib cage.
The Astros finally won three consecutive games on their fifth try to extend a two-game winning streak. Their first opportunity did not come until May 4.
Houston plays a home-and-home four-game set against Arizona beginning in Chase Field on Monday, then the Astros host the A's for the three games beginning Friday.