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A’s and Rangers to Battle it Out for Top Spot in AL West

For the AL West, they’ll begin the second half of the season with two teams at the top of the MLB.com’s weekly Power Rankings.

First there is the division-leading Oakland Athletics (56-39). This week they sit at No.3 in the rankings, up from their previous No. 4 ranking. This comes as they A’s won a series against the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox (58-39) just before the All-Star Break. MLB. com gave a shout out to the A’s Josh Donaldson for his efforts not only against Boston but for his overall great first half  of the season with his .310 average, 16 homers, and 61 RBIs.

Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson

And no, Donaldson was not an All-Star.

Overall Oakland’s team batting average of .245 sits at No. 21 for the Majors but its pitching staff’s ERA of 3.62 represents the AL’s best. As for its starters, they sit at No. 3 in the AL with 57 quality starts.

Contributors to this include veteran and new 40-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon. What a difference a year makes for this player as he failed a PED test last season. This year he is supposedly passing his drug tests and pitching well at 12-3 (2.70 ERA).

Another factor in this team’s success is their confidence. Rewind a year ago and they were at .500 while this season they’re 17 games ahead of this and two games higher than the Texas Rangers (54-41).  Last season? They were behind the Rangers by 8 1/2 games at this same point.

A’s catcher Derek Norris said of the differential via MLB.com, “Last year, they were in the lead for the entire year until that last day. We’re looking to keep pressing forward and make it to where we don’t have to wait until the last day of the season to celebrate the AL West.”

And in the end, we all know how things turned out for Oakland.

Now as the look ahead to the second half of the season, they’re playing a more balanced game but it wouldn’t hurt to have their defense step it up a bit.

As they enter the second half, the A’s are 9 to 2 to win this year’s AL Pennant and 10 to 1 for the World Series.

On Friday, they’ll start things off with a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels (44-49).

The A’s will have righty A.J. Griffin (8-6) on the mound vs. the Angels righty Jered Weaver (3-5).

Rangers Say No to Perez   

For the Rangers, they’ll begin the second half of the season trying to gain the top spot in the AL West. They’re battling the injury bug with their pitching staff as they entered the break with seven pitchers on the DL (six starters). Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando should be back soon, reported CBS Sports, with Darvis to be activated on Monday.

Meanwhile Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison will return at a later time.

Martin Perez

Martin Perez

This has led to rumors that the Rangers would be interested in trading for the Chicago Cubs (42-51) coveted righty Matt Garza.

On Tuesday, the team appeared to be out of the running as it said no to including its young pitcher lefty Martin Perez in the trade.

The team did sit for a second week at No. 5 in the MLB’s Power Rankings. This ranking comes on its strong offense (No. 10 in the league with a .260 average and No. 7 for .318 slugging ). Its pitching hasn’t been too shabby either as the team’s pitchers have a team ERA of 3.73.

This gives then a No. 2 ranking for the league along with their .248 batting average against. Who’s above them for the team ERA? Yep, their rival, the A’s.

The Rangers, who sit at 12 to 1 to win this year’s World Series, will return to action on Friday against the Baltimore Orioles (53-43).

Lefty Wei-Yin Chen (4-3) takes the mound for the Orioles against Rangers lefty Derek Holland (8-4).



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