The Houston Astros suffered through one of the worst possible outcomes during a doubleheader.
After a seven game win streak after the trade for Justin Verlander, the Astros have lost the first three games of this series versus the Athletics. With first pitch upcoming, the Stros need a win in a big way. We will talk about the final stretch on tonight’s Talking Stros on SportsTalk 790 after today’s game.
For a while this year, the Stros had the best record in baseball ahead of the Dodgers. That changed around the All-Star break when the Dodgers passed them for the best record. The Astros did have a big lead in the AL West. Fans were focused on maintaining the lead in the West.
Meanwhile, the Indians are on an impressive 17 game winning streak that has seen them catch up to Houston. Both teams are 30-games above .500 at 86-56. If you asked A.J. Hinch if they would have liked to have that record after 142 games at the beginning of the year, he would have been happy. Houston is days away from clinching the AL West.
The only problem is that the best record in the AL controls home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs. Assuming the Dodgers finish with the best overall record, they will have home-field in the World Series assuming they get there. However, the Astros will now battle with the Indians for AL Supremacy for more than just home-field advantage.
If the Astros finish with the top AL record, they will face the winner of the AL Wildcard game. At the moment, that would be the Yankees or the Twins. The Stros would match up well versus both those teams. Versus the Yankees, the Astros are 4-2 against them. Versus the Twins, the Astros have won five of six this year.
The Red Sox are not a good matchup.
If the Indians finish with the better record, the Astros will be facing a tougher opponent in the Red Sox. The Astros have only played three games versus the Red Sox this year and will finish the season with four road games to close out the season. Those four games could be critical to who finishes at the top of the AL.
It’s almost like MLB predicted a tough battle at the end of the season for the Astros. Let’s assume that the Indians finishes ahead of the Stros. They will play the Red Sox in the first round after just playing them a few days earlier. The weaknesses of both teams will be fresh on the other team’s minds.
With Chris Sale at the head of the Red Sox rotation, the Astros are 1-2 so far versus the Red Sox in 2017. Unless the Red Sox catch up to the Stros, we should have home-field in the first round. They just don’t match up well versus the Red Sox. The Indians are due to regress a little after winning 17 games.
Now that the Indians and Astros are tied for the top spot, it’s time for the Astros to play better. Instead of trying to stay ahead, they need to play H-Town baseball and hope the Indians struggle a little. The Indians do have a weak schedule, but you never know how well those bad teams will play versus the elite teams.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***