Finally, the Astros are getting some separation from the Oakland A's and the Seattle Mariners in the AL West. The Astros have struggled against subpar teams for some reason but, when it matters, they seem to rise to the occasion and win ball games that they really need to win. The same cannot be said however for either the Oakland A's or the Seattle Mariners who, after being in the race most of the season for the AL West crown, are absolutely reeling. And I mean REELING, especially Oakland.
Let's take a look at Seattle first. On July 27th, the Astros just happened to be in Seattle a couple days before the trade deadline. It was at the deadline that they were looking for some bullpen help and, what do you know, there was a really good bullpen arm right there in the Seattle bullpen. His name was Kendall Graveman. And, Astros GM James Click really liked him. All he needed to do was convince Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto to give up Graveman for the right price. And, James Click pulled it off. Jerry Dipoto traded away Kendall Graveman to the Astros for Abraham Toro and Joe Smith. If the Astros end up wining the title and keeping Graveman long term, they would have basically got him for the price of a bag of chips and a half eaten turkey sandwich. That's nothing against Toro or Smith, but, for Jerry Dipoto to trade Graveman in the middle of the Mariners trying to chase down those very Astros for first place in the division, well, it wasn't a smart move.
Seattle hasn't fared well either since the trade. It's been one month since and their record in that month is 14-14. That's not going to move the needle or catch the Astros who have gone 15-12. Not the best, but if you're going to catch the division leader, you have to take advantage of their subpar record and, you have to win games. And, one could argue that since Graveman was traded, it has thrown off Seattle's chemistry and rhythm. But, hey, that's good for the Astros. On the day of the trade, Seattle was 6 games back of Houston but more importantly, they were 1 game out of the second Wild Card spot. Since then, they are 7.5 back of Houston for the AL West and 4.5 back of the second Wild Card spot. One could argue that Seattle is falling apart. And, yeah, to an extent, that may be true. However, it is nowhere near as bad as the Oakland A's who are absolutely loosing their minds, and, the season.
Oakland, Oakland, Oakland, the sports city that can't seem to get anything right. The city that will always be the baby brother to San Francisco. The city that continues to blame Houston for cheating when they, in fact, have had two of the biggest cheaters to every play the game. They celebrated McGwire and Canseco like they were national heroes. Nope, they were just cheaters. Same with Ramón Laureano. Dave Stewart back in a 2020 video said, "Houston, thank you once again you cheaters" when talking about Laureano (he was traded as a minor leaguer back in 2017 from the Astros to the A's). Laureano was then popped for steroids a year later and is now serving an 80 game suspension. Great call on that one Dave.
Anyhow, like I said earlier, they are REELING right now and it feels like it's only getting worse for them. On August 6th, Laureano got popped for steroids. On that day, the A's were 3 games behind the Astros for first place and had a firm grasp on the second Wild Card spot. Since then, they have completely fallen apart. In that time, Oakland has gone 8-11 and have gone 2-8 in their last 10 games. They are falling apart at the seams of a baseball and it couldn't have come at a worse time. They are now 6.5 games back of the Astros, the largest deficit of the season, and have dropped out of the second Wild Card spot and are now 3.5 games back. They went from potentially playing the Red Sox in the Wild Card game to potentially missing the playoffs as a whole. I guarantee you, the Astros are smiling at that fact.
Speaking of the Astros, it's been a weird month for them. For whatever reason, they can beat teams over .500 no problem but teams below .500, they seem to struggle against. The thing about the Astros though, they always seem to win games when they have to and when it's the most important. As I mentioned earlier, they've gone 15-12 in the past month. While that's not the best, they've gone out and have done well and now seem to be getting a bit hotter winning their last 3 straight. They play both Seattle and Oakland six more times this season and all of those games will have some sort of playoff implications.
The remaining schedules for both Seattle and Oakland are brutal. For Seattle, they still have the Astros, Red Sox, and 7 games against the A's on the schedule. Not terrible, but, not favorable. The A's, dear God. They have 2 games left against the Yankees this weekend, then for rest of the season, they have the Blue Jays, White Sox, and 13 games left between the Astros and the Mariners. It's going to be a tough stretch and I honestly don't seem them getting out of this funk they are in.
The Astros winning and seemingly starting to get hot could not have come at a better time. They have a relatively easy schedule remaining and now have a comfortable lead on both Oakland and Seattle. Once again, for the Astros, they sit up top on the standings in the AL West while Seattle and Oakland both look up at them. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.