Astros AM: The Stros Strike Back Against the Rangers Empire

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Sep 4, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis (11) and relief pitcher Ken Giles (53) celebrate the win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Astros won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis (11) and relief pitcher Ken Giles (53) celebrate the win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Astros won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Astros need to get at least 16 more wins in the 26 remaining games in 2016.

The Houston Astros have finally said, enough is enough, and they beat the AL West-leading Rangers. Since the creation of the Silver Boot when interleague play started, it has seemed that the Rangers have had the upper hand. There have been a few seasons where the Astros took care of business, but the recent rivalry is very one-sided. The Astros did something last night that they haven’t done much in 2016. They beat the Rangers.

Yesterday, I wrote that the Astros could not afford to lose too much versus the Rangers if they want to compete for the wild card. The Astros beat the Rangers 7-6 in the series finale, winning for only the third time in 16 chances this year. The Astros are so far back behind the Rangers solely on how they have played against the Rangers. If the Stros could have won at least half of the games versus the Rangers, they could be chasing the AL West instead of the wild card.

How were the Astros able to win? They won with just enough pitching to keep them ahead versus the stacked Rangers offense. Collin McHugh did not pitch well, giving up five runs in four-plus innings. However, he was able to keep the Rangers off the scoreboard long enough for the offense to pad the lead. A lead that the Astros never yielded in the game.

Offense answered the call.

The offense got to Yu Darvish early in the game, starting with George Springer‘s RBI. Alex Bregman got three hits and stole his first base in the majors. Bregman also capitalized on the weaknesses of Carlos Gomez‘s throwing ability to advance to third base on a fly out. While Ken Giles did allow a leadoff triple in the ninth, he held the Rangers to one run for the save.

Giles showed some zip on his fastball last, hitting the century mark on most of his pitches. This is the closer the Astros need if they want to secure one of the wild card slots. Some of you might think that the Stros can’t pull it off in 2016, but I think that 88 wins could win the wild card.

This week will be key to the season.

Houston continues their streak of playing playoff caliber teams for their next ten games. The start a four-game series with the Indians tomorrow and will play the Chicago Cubs and Rangers following that. How they respond during that stretch will have a big say on the playoff chances. We discussed this on last night’s Talking Stros.

I think the Astros could win the wild card with 88 wins, so I did a breakdown with the realistic possibilities for the Stros for each series. I did figure out 16 wins, but winning some games over the next ten days is critical in case they falter in the final 16 games versus the lesser talent. Take a look.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Indians: Take 2 of 4 games

Cubs: Take 1 of 3 games

Rangers: Take 1 of 3 games

Mariners: Take 5 of 6 games

Athletics: Take 2 of 3 games

Angels: Take 5 of 7 games

Add that up and you get 16 wins and ten losses for 88 games. The Astros are currently two games behind the Orioles and Tigers for the wild card, but all they can focus on is winning themselves. Like I said on Talking Stros last night, the Orioles will be playing a strong AL East down the stretch. However, the Tigers have played really well recently.

Next: Astros AM: Struggles vs. Rangers not good for playoff hopes

Let’s try to play smart baseball over the next ten days. Even if we go 4-6 over that stretch, with good play, the Stros could still reach the playoffs. Listen to this week’s Talking Stros by scrolling back up.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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