Hunter gives Texas its due as contender

Hunter gives Texas its due as contender

ANAHEIM -- After having their way in the American League West for the past three seasons, the Angels clearly aren't surprised to see Texas emerging as a legitimate threat and roadblock, carrying a 4 1/2-game division lead into a three-game series at Angel Stadium starting Tuesday night.

"I watch MLB Network," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "I see what they're doing -- I've got no choice. If they're winning like this in September, then it's a problem. September shows what you're really made of. Their pitching is good, their hitting is good, their defense is good. They look totally different. You can't take these guys lightly."

With Interleague Play over, the AL West stands 4 1/2 games above .500 as a division. In 2009, it was the strongest overall division in the Majors, a distinction that belongs at the moment to the AL East, which is 10 1/2 games above .500.

"Everybody classifies it as not being a strong division," said Angels ace Jered Weaver, who starts the series finale on Thursday night against southpaw C.J. Wilson. "There are always three teams battling to win the AL West. Obviously, this year with Texas doing what they're doing, it presents a serious challenge. Oakland's playing good baseball. Seattle has some talent.

"It always seems like the AL West takes a while to get going for some reason. A lot of teams start out slow, and then they get going around this time of year. Maybe we just like the warmer weather."