As we close the books on August in Major League Baseball action, it's time to do our weekly ritual here at Eye on Baseball, where we throw out each of the five traditional grades. At the top this week is a rather obvious choice.
Definitely note that this isn't going to include everyone and there will be "snubs." This week in particular, definitely feel free to take note of the Giants, who are riding a six-game winning streak and just swept the first-place Brewers in convincing fashion.
As for the five we actually graded, here they are.
After losing two of three to the A's last weekend, the Angels have caught fire. They took two of three from the Marlins and then swept the A's in four games, moving the Angels to 30 games over .500 for the first time since they finished 2009 at 97-65. Their lead in the AL West is now five games. They were down six games on June 20, so this has been quite a huge movement out West.
The four-game series against Oakland was a spectacular statement. The Angels outscored the A's 18-4 and held them scoreless for a majority of the series. Matt Shoemaker has been brilliant, especially in light of the Garrett Richards loss. You just can't say enough about this team right now.
The Pirates have some ground to make up after that pesky seven-game losing streak a few weeks ago. They did a pretty good job this week, taking two of three from both the Cardinals and Reds. The offense hasn't been great, but the run prevention has, so we'll give them a B.
As things stand, they need to be better, though, as they sit two games back of the second wild card.
They finish the month of August 16-15 with some pretty large hills and valleys. This week wasn't much different. The Tigers took two of three from the Yankees, but David Price was crushed in the loss to the tune of eight runs on 12 hits in two-plus innings. They got an encouraging outing from Justin Verlander on Friday, but overall split a four-game series with the White Sox, who entered the series having lost seven of eight. Also, Miguel Cabrera's ankle injury definitely isn't good.
So we end up right in the meaty part of the curve with the Tigers.
I can't justify giving them an F in a week in which they won a series, which they did with a three-game series in Houston to begin the week. The aforementioned drubbing at the hands of the now-mighty Angels, though, knocks the A's all the way down here. They are absolutely terrible offensively right now and finished August 12-17.
The once-clearly best team in baseball might even have to fight just for a wild-card spot now.
The week started off so promising, with a 10-1 win in San Diego. That was it, though. The Brewers lost the next two in that series before being swept in San Francisco. They were blown out twice by the Giants, too, 13-2 and 15-5. They have lost their lead in the NL Central, as they head into September tied with the Cardinals.
Perhaps some silver lining? The Brewers have a four-game series against St. Louis this coming weekend. They better get things back together before then, and it could be a great opportunity.