Texas Rangers Sweep Houston Astros, Take Big AL West Lead

Texas Rangers fans enjoyed a sweep of the Houston Astros this week. The Rangers beat the Astros again on Thursday, September 17, completing a four-game series sweep of the division rival. The 8-2 victory improved the Rangers to 79-67 on the year, putting the team 2 1/2 games ahead of the Astros in the American League West standings.

A combination of timely hitting and great relief pitching extended the winning streak. Rangers’ right fielder Shin-Soo Choo went 4-for-5 at the plate, driving in two runs and scoring two more. Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer in the third inning, and starting pitcher Colby Lewis pitched six strong innings for his 16th victory of the season.

In the updated MLB standings, a five-game winning streak has allowed the Texas Rangers to surpass the Houston Astros. Losing eight of the last 10 games, the Astros (77-70) have almost been caught by the Los Angeles Angels (74-72) as well. Going into the stretch run, every game has elevated importance, and the Astros have hit a cold stretch that could cost the team a spot in the 2015 MLB Playoffs.

Currently, the Astros have a 1 1/2 games lead over the Minnesota Twins (75-71) in the race for the second wild card spot. A small bit of good fortune for the Astros, though, is that the Twins are on a three-game losing streak. Houston now hosts a three-game weekend series against the Oakland Athletics, beginning on Friday, September 18.

This Rangers’ sweep shows how far the team has come in a short time. A report from CBS Sports indicates the team has gone 24-10 in its last 34 games and overcame a big deficit in the AL West standings. It certainly helped that the Rangers outscored the Astros 33-13 in the four-game series as well. Now it’s just a matter of holding on to that slim lead and getting to participate in the 2015 MLB Playoffs.

The Rangers had a rough opening to the 2015 MLB season, residing in last place until around mid-May. The team again slipped in the standings during the summer and by the beginning of August was in the cellar again. Since then, the team has easily passed the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, and now the Houston Astros to take full control of the division. If this Texas Rangers’ sweep of the Astros in any indication of things to come, fans should start planning to watch some postseason games again.

[Image Source: Rick Yeatts/Getty Images]