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Yu Darvish Gets 500th Strikeout in Debut

The Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels both have some of the best odds in the AL West when it comes to winning the 2015 World Series at 20/1 and 18/1, respectively. However, things have been slow going during the first week of the regular season for both squads. And while the Angels lost on Sunday to divisional Houston, the Rangers were able to get the much-needed win over Tampa Bay, 3-0.

While the win is big for the Rangers, as it helps them avoid going 2-4 to start the season for the first time since 2007, the bigger key might have been the performance of Yu Darvish. The Japanese ace pitched seven shutout innings and had five strikeouts after just the first two innings, in what was his first start of the season. He would complete his night with 89-pitches and six strikeouts, which was the 500th of his career. It only took Darvish 401 2/3 inning to achieve this feat, making him the quickest pitcher to ever reach the 500 mark.

Now that Darvish is back in the lineup, he should add a much appreciated spark to the Rangers. They will start a series against the Boston Red Sox beginning on Monday.

As for the Angels, it’s a huge surprise with where they are at in the standings. They have a ton of firepower with Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. But despite currently sitting 10th in the league in runs scored, they had a tough opening series against divisional Seattle. The Mariners were able to sweep the Angles, 10-3, 8-3 and 8-2, as LA was outscored by Seattle 26-7 over the series.

Things looked to turn around with an 11-1 win against Houston on Friday, which was followed by a 5-1 win on Saturday. However the Angels were unable to get back to .500, after a 7-4 loss on Sunday.

Josh Hamilton has been doing his job thus far for the Angels, leading the team in batting average, home runs, RBIs, on base percentage and hits. Mike Trout also has two-homeruns on the season and is batting .304.

The Angels will play one more against Houston on Monday. With a win, they could tie the Astros in the AL West as they try and make their way back to .500. After that series, they’ll get their shot to get some payback against the Mariners.

Speaking of those Mariners, they had a huge offseason by signing Robinson Cano. But while sitting at 35/1 odds to win the World Series, nobody would’ve expected them to start the season 4-2 and atop their division. After getting off to a huge series against the Angels, they then lost two-out-of-three to the A’s. However, the Mariners 31 runs on the season are fourth in the majors.

Cano has been leading the Mariners in batting average, on base percentage and hits through the first week, and Justin Smoak is helping out with home runs and RBIs.

With so much divisional play that these teams will play against each other, we should see how the AL West plans to shake up over the next few weeks. But if the Mariners can keep it up with Cano, we’ll see if they can give Texas and LA a run for the divisional title.

Don’t forget that the Houston Astros have the worst odds in the majors at 350/1. Yet they currently sit ahead of the Angels. And the A’s, like the Rangers, sit at 20/1. It should be a good race between these teams this year.