So… yeah. I was really hoping that things might be a little rosier than this for this week’s edition of the standings, but apparently the M’s forgot that it’s not 2010 any more, because they’re currently playing like it is. Sorry.
If it’s any consolation, it was a pretty rough week around the division. Well, except for the Angels, but even they didn’t get all rosy news.
1. Texas Rangers (11-5)
Last Seven Days: 2-4
Current Streak: Won 1
Notes: The loss of OF Josh Hamilton has really hurt the Rangers, and OF Nelson Cruz cooling down at the plate hasn’t helped them any either. They dropped their remaining two games against the Tigers, then dropped two of three against the surging Yankees in New York. They whipped the Angels 7-1 last night, but the offense is slumping, and the back end of the bullpen has scuffled.
Part of the issue the Rangers have faced has been the decision-making of manager Ron Washington. On two consecutive days last week, the Rangers were facing a tied game going in to the bottom of the ninth inning with the Tigers coming up to bat. That’s about as high-leverage a situation as you get, so you’d go to your closer in that situation, right? Especially when he’s rested and ready to go, right? Apparently not, as Washington went to Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver on those days, and each guy surrendered a walk-off hit, Oliver’s coming in the form of a home run to Brandon Inge. Whoops.
Next Seven Days: 2 vs LAA, day off, 3 vs KC, 1 vs TOR
2. Los Angeles Angels (10-6, 1 Game Back)
Last Seven Days: 5-1
Current Streak: Lost 1
Notes: The Angels righted an up-and-down start to the year by ripping a five-game winning streak before falling to the Rangers last night. The Angels out-scored their opponents 21-10 during a run that saw the offense finally start to ignite and dominate starts from both Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, and also saw Jorden Walden emerge as the team’s closer after Fernando Rodney failed to hold the role over the first two weeks.
The news hasn’t all been good, however. In the past week, Torii Hunter, who had started off well, had just two hits in the last week, though one of them was a homer. Erick Aybar is going to be out for some time with an oblique injury. Vernon Wells has a 5-game hitting streak, but he’s still only hitting .186 with a Mariner-like .448 OPS (sorry, had to be said). Hank Conger is hitting well when he gets in to games, but Mike Scoscia has only put him in seven times. If the Angels are going to maintain this pace, they need to hit and not just rely on their top two starters.
Next Seven Days: 2 @ TEX, 4 vs BOS, 1 vs OAK
3. Oakland Athletics (8-8, 3 GB)
Last Seven Days: 3-3
Current Streak: Won 2
Notes: The A’s had a mediocre week pockmarked by bad news. Dallas Braden, he of the perfect game and A-Rod-aimed temper tantrum in 2010, is on the DL with a sore shoulder, and will miss at least several starts. Also, young relief ace Andrew Bailey was already on the DL, but now it sounds like they don’t know when he’ll be back, meaning the A’s will have to continue to rely on Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour to protect late leads. Neither man has been particularly impressive at the job so far.
In a familiar refrain, the A’s just aren’t hitting well enough right now. Among Oakland batters with at least 30 at-bats, only three have an on-base percentage over .300, and only two have a slugging percentage over .400. Even the Mariners are better off than that (they’re at five and two respectively). To make things worse, while the starting rotation has done well, the bullpen that was supposed to be so good has been anything but. Both the lineup and bullpen need to start producing, or it’s going to be a long season in Oakland.
Next Seven Days: 2 vs BOS, 4 @ SEA, 1 @ LAA
4. Seattle Mariners (5-awful, 6.5 GB)
Last Seven Days: 2-5
Current Streak:Lost One
Notes: OK, so the M’s record is 5-12, but 5-awful just felt right. Because, really, that’s what it’s felt like of late. The M’s won each of Michael Pineda’s last two starts, though not for lack of trying to achieve otherwise. Outside of those two games, they’ve looked utterly hopeless. The series against Kansas City was a rude wake-up call after the small hope given in the Toronto series, a matchup of a team that’s vastly over-achieving up against a team that’s vastly under-achieving. I’ll let you look at last week’s record and decide how that went.
Really, outside of Pineda and Justin Smoak, the M’s haven’t been all that watchable. Even Felix has been off his game, surrendering 12 runs (though only nine earned) over his last two starts. Yikes. The offense has been largely atrocious this year, especially Jack Cust, Chone Figgins, and Miguel Olivo. Olivo has been particularly bad, running an 0-26 streak until getting a base hit on Sunday against the Royals, and stranding numerous baserunners during that stretch.
Next Seven Days: 2 vs DET, 4 vs OAK, day off