The final weekend series before the long-awaited All-Star break will take place this weekend. Three teams in the American League West will look to gain ground in the Wild Card standings and are within striking distance of overtaking one or even two slots. Here is a look at the games this weekend in the American League West.
Texas Rangers at Minnesota Twins
The Twins have been the most surprising team this year in the big leagues. Projected to finish a distant second in the AL Central Division, the Twins are running away from the rest of the pack and giving the Yankees and Astros a challenge for the top spot in the American League. Another surprising team, the Texas Rangers, were projected to finish at the bottom of the AL West. With a strong offense, the Rangers are challenging for a Wild Card spot and battling Oakland for second place in the division. Texas is coming off a difficult home set against the Angels following the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Starting for Texas on Friday will be Adrian Sampson, who is coming off a six-inning loss to the Rays. He threw 99 pitches and gave up three runs. Jesse Chavez gets the start on Saturday, and he has been good his past three starts. He has given up six runs, four earned, in 17.1 innings pitched. On Sunday, the Rangers will send Mike Minor to the mound. He has been really sharp this season with 2.54 ERA and 114 strikeouts. Countering for the Twins will be Martin Perez on Friday and Michael Pineda on Saturday, while the starter for Sunday has still been undecided.
Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros
The Angels showed perseverance and mental toughness in a very difficult week for the club. The death of starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs. They went 2-for-3 in the series against the Rangers and lost All-Star Tommy La Stella for eight to 10 weeks following a fracture to his tibia. Mike Trout has been hot again, hitting three homers against the Rangers. The Angels are five games out of a Wild Card spot, but will run into a buzz saw against the Astros. Houston is currently on a five-game winning streak and will send their two top pitchers this weekend. Justin Verlander gets the start on Friday, while Gerrit Cole starts on Saturday. Verlander has given up 17 runs in his past five outings, while striking out 44. The All-Star is still 10-3 on the season, and got the win against the Angels in their May meeting in Mexico. Cole has been lights out in his past five starts, giving up six runs while striking out 45. The Angels will send Felix Pena on Friday, and Andrew Heaney on Saturday. Sunday will see Astros rookie Jose Urquidi get his second start against the Angels Jose Suarez.
Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
The final series this weekend will see Oakland travel to Seattle and face a struggling Mariners team. Seattle has won one game in their last seven. Oakland meanwhile is 5-2 in their last seven including winning four straight. Marcus Semien hit two home runs to include a grand slam in the A’s 7-2 win over the Twins on Thursday. Only one game out of a Wild Card slot, the Athletics will look to overtake Cleveland or Tampa Bay before the break. Pitching for Oakland on Friday will be Brett Anderson, who is coming off a 7.2 inning shutout against the Angels in his last start. Seattle will counter with Yusei Kikuchi, who pitched five innings and gave up three earned runs against Houston this past Saturday. Saturday’s matchup will see Chris Bassitt against Marco Gonzales. Bassitt struck out seven in 5.2 innings while giving up only two runs against the Angels, while Gonzales gave up three runs in five innings against the Astros.
Featured image courtesy of Bleacher Report
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