We have a pennant race, folks! The Astros, after playing .432 ball in 2014, have spent most of the season ahead in the AL West. The Texas Rangers have crept up on them in the last two weeks and they went head to head this past week. We are witnessing the birth of what should be a great rivalry.
Astros vs. Rangers 7/14:
The Astros scored a run in the top of the 7th to even things up but the Rangers scored two more in the bottom of the 8th . The Astros were unable to score in the top of the 9th. This game saw some solid work by the starting pitching. Scott Kazmir of the Astros went 7 innings and allowed 3 runs on 5 hits while striking out 4. Cole Hamels of the Rangers allowed 3 runs on 7 hits while striking out 4 in 7 innings. Will Harris allowed the winning 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th.
Final Score: Rangers 5, Astros 3
Standings Result: The Astros remain 1/2 game ahead of the Rangers in the AL West
Astros vs. Rangers 7/15:
The one was a heartbreaker with the Rangers scoring the winning run on a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 9th to take the lead in the AL West. The Astros left 9 men on base while the Rangers left 10. None of that mattered in the end for the Rangers as they walked off with the victory and the lead in the AL West. The Rangers chances of making the play-offs, which stood at 46% after a September 12th loss to the A’s now stand at 84%.
Final Score: Rangers 6, Astros 5
Standings Result: Astros fall 1/2 game behind Rangers AL West
Astros vs. Rangers 7/16:
Dallas Keuchel, a very good pitcher having a very good season, got torched this game for 11 hits and 9 runs including 3 home runs in only 4 2/3rd innings. It raised his ERA to 2.56 which most pitchers would welcome. Every pitcher has a bad start on occasion and this was certainly Keuchel’s. Neither the relief pitching nor the offense could offset the Rangers’ offensive juggernaut. The Astros’ went 10-35 at the plate with Evan Gattis going 3 for 4 but the team only drove in 3 runs. The Rangers went 16 for 40 at the plate. If a team is hitting above .400, I would not bet against them.
Final Score: Rangers 14, Astros 3
Standings Result: Astros fall 1 1/2 games behind Rangers in AL West
Astros vs. Rangers 7/17: The Astros had seven hits in this game but only 2 extra base hits. The Rangers had 7 2 out RBIs including 3 for Moreland. I don’t think we will remember this as a pitching match-up for the ages.
Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 2
Standings Result: Texas leads the AL West by 2 1/2 games with less than 13 games to play. The Astros and Rangers will meet again for a 3 game series before the season ends.
The Astros have completed a remarkable turnaround in the last four years. Their scouting, instruction, and drafting have all been top notch. Unlike the other major sports, even the best players spend 2-3 years in the minor leagues. This means it took some time for the top talent to reach the major league level. Now that is has, I think this is only a snapshot of what the Astros will be capable of, barring injury, over the next 2-3 years. The Astros are still in possession of a the 2nd Wild Card spot. It is a disappointing consolation after holding onto the lead in the AL West for most of the year but both of last year’s World Series teams were the 2nd Wild Cards in their respective leagues. Anything can happen in October. I can’t wait to see what happens.