AL West arms race heating up between LA Angels and Oakland Athletics

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The Angels and Athletics see an opening.

In the past, the American League's Central and East divisions were stronger. This year, the AL West has the best two teams in the league.

So both Oakland and Los Angeles are buying to get even better. Both legitimately believe this is their year to win the American League, so they both bolstered their pitching with recent trades hoping to be the team that makes a run.

When Oakland traded its top two prospects for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the gauntlet was set forth. When L.A. Traded four prospects to add Padres closer Huston Street, it was the answer. Neither is probably done.

"Clearly four guys we liked and liked them a heck of a lot," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told

"[It's] always painful giving up young players that you believe are going to play in the big leagues and hopefully have long careers."

Angels' new bullpen

The Angels already traded for Pirates reliever Jason Grilli this spring and two weeks remain before the deadline.

Joe Smith has been closing for the Angels, but he'll likely be moving to the eighth inning. Street converted 23 straight save to start the year before losing his first one on July 5. The Angels' closer to start the year was Ernesto Frieri, who the team traded to Pittsburgh for Grilli.

"Huston brings us a quality ninth-inning presence that really enhances our team," Dipoto told

"Huston Street, I don't want to [call] him a luxury, he is a quality Major league player that comes and makes our team better."

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All-Star pitcher is ace that Athletics needed also cited some impressive stats representing the Angels' bullpen turnaround, which had them winning nine of 10 games as of Saturday.

The Angels had managed, over their past 27 games, an ERA of 2.37 that was highlighted by a 10-ining scoreless run in Friday's 16-inning win.

In the 66 games before that, they were miserable, with a 4.36 ERA while converting 16 of 26 saves. Since the positive run began, the Angels have saved 10 of 12.

Athletics still ahead

Despite the Angels' recent success, they were still 1.5 games behind the Athletics in both the AL West and for the American League lead heading into Saturday's games.

With the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers holding two of the worst three records in the game, the Angels and Athletics were already set up well. Then the Athletics made the big trade to give them a solid No. 1 starter. Samardzija has pitched well and the A's had won 7 of 10 heading into Saturday.

Not bad, but still uncertain to be enough to outlast the Angels.

Both should make the playoffs. But, being a division winner instead of a wild card would be a big deal for both.

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MLB American League
Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics

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