The worst era in Astros history has made way for the best. With the Astros' blowout victory Sunday over the Angels, they have once again clinched the AL West. This marks their third straight division title. They were stuck on the magic number of one thanks to the A's continuing to win while the Astros lost Saturday. Sunday they left no doubt, thanks in part to George Springer's .
Here's the final out and the celebration in Houston:
This is the second time in Astros history they've taken a division crown three straight times (1997-99), but each of those three teams suffered a divisional round series exit. This stretch already has two trips to the ALCS and one World Series title, the Astros' first. Further, the Astros previously won at least 100 games in a season just once. They've now done it three straight years.
Also in play here: The franchise record in wins was established last season at 103. This team has already won 102 with a week to go.
This team weathered the storm with early key injuries to Springer and Jose Altuve, while Carlos Correa has been banged up most of the season. New addition Michael Brantley has been outstanding while Alex Bregman has an outside shot at winning AL MVP honors. The Astros could well have the top two finishers in AL Cy Young voting, too, in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole (however you want to order them). They added Zack Greinke in front of the trade deadline to give them a trio of postseason aces.
Ultimately, the postseason is what matters at this point. The bar, as they say, has been raised in Houston. Winning 100-plus games and the division is old hat. They want another pennant and World Series title. This group is absolutely good enough to do it, but so are the Yankees, Twins, Braves, Dodgers and a few others could get hot enough.
For now, congratulations, again, to the Astros.