The Astros have had their struggles against the Texas Rangers this season. But a win or two in the upcoming 3-game series in Arlington would be a devastating blow to the Rangers’ playoff hopes.
Rangers fans are probably already crying about the Astros losing four straight in Cleveland over the last four days. All season long the Rangers have been in position to secure a wildcard spot, but the Indians have surged ahead — thanks to their sweep of the Astros and a recent cold streak by the Rangers.
The Oakland Athletics clinched the A.L. West over the weekend and the Rangers only avenue into the 2013 postseason will be via the wildcard play-in game. Last year, a September collapse cost the Rangers the division and they were ousted from the playoffs by the Baltimore Orioles in the first ever winner-take-all playoff game. Rangers fans are undoubtedly thinking “here we go again”.
The new intrastate rivalry created by the Astros move to the American League is about to get serious. Outside of the Astros Opening Night victory, the Rangers have had their way with their neighbors to the south all year. The Astros are a dismal 2-14 against Texas and several of those games have been blowouts.
Can the Astros step up their game knowing that all of the pressure is on their rival? I certainly hope so. I’m sick and tired of hearing and reading about how the A.L. West teams have an advantage because they get to play the Astros more often than teams in the other divisions do. The so-called experts pretty much handed out both A.L. wildcard spots to western division teams before the season even started. Newsflash: That didn’t happen!
Missing the postseason would be a bitter disappointment for a Rangers team that entered the season with lofty expectations. Seeing the Astros make it happen would make it that much more satisfying.
Chris Carter will be looking for his 30th HR of the season tonight in Arlington. (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)