Rangers can take division lead with win tonight.
The American League West Division race is heating up in the last weeks of the season as the Texas Rangers took a 5-3 win over the division-leading Houston Astros in Arlington last night.
The Astros, division leaders for most of the season, saw their lead dwindle to one-half game over the instate-rival Rangers with the loss. The young Astros are 4-6 over their last ten games and may be starting to feel the pressure mounting from most of the team’s first experience in a pennant race.
First-year Astros manager A.J. Hinch spoke about the team’s recent play, saying, “Our team is ready to play. We’re fine. We’re playing really close games. We’ve got a couple of losses this week. We’re not spooked. We’re a Major League baseball team, and we’ll show up tomorrow ready to play.”
Prince Fielder broke up a 3-3 tie in the eight inning with a two-run homer giving the Rangers the lead and the game. Fielder said in a report from MLB.Com, “I knew I hit it good, but here you never know. The wind plays tricks on you sometimes.”
The Rangers who fell back in the race in the early season have steadily been moving up on the Astros as the season draws to a close. Neither team was expected to make a run for the title this year.
Monday’s game was the first of a four-game series in Arlington that will definitely shape the pennant race ahead. The Astros have 18 remaining games, with 15 against West Division rivals, while Texas has 19 remaining, 16 against the West. The Rangers and Astros have six more games against each other, three games in Arlington and three in Houston.
The Los Angeles Angels are still in the hunt, but their hopes took a serious blow on Sunday when the Astros scored five times with two out in the ninth inning to erase a 3-0 deficit and prevent the Angels from cutting the Astros’ lead to 3.5 games. The Angels are currently at 4.5 back of the lead, and 4 back in the race for the second wild card slot.
The runner-up in the division has a good shot at making the playoffs as a wild card team, but the surging Minnesota Twins hope to have a say in that outcome.