Houston Astros clinch second straight AL West title
They'll face the Indians in the ALDS
The defending World Series champion Houston Astros are once again AL West champions.
Tuesday night, the Astros clinched their second straight AL West title thanks to their win over the Blue Jays (HOU 4, TOR 1) and the Mariners' walk-off win over the Athletics (SEA 10, OAK 8). The A's have been baseball's hottest team for a good three months now and at one point pulled even with the 'Stros in the AL West, but alas, they couldn't claim the division crown.
Mariners utility man Chris Herrmann swatted a walk-off home run against the A's to clinch the AL West title for the Astros on Tuesday.
The Astros have won consecutive division titles for the first time since winning three straight division titles from 1997-99. That was back when they played in the NL Central. Also, Tuesday night the Astros became the first team to win 100-plus games in back-to-back years since the 2004-05 Cardinals.
While the Red Sox have the better win-loss record, the case can be made the Astros have been the best team in baseball this season. They have the best run differential in baseball (plus-264), and their ratio of runs scored to runs allowed is among the best since World War II:
Thanks to their powerhouse rotation and sneaky excellent bullpen, the Astros are the best run prevention team in baseball, holding their opponents to an average of 3.33 runs per game. They've done that even with Lance McCullers Jr. missing much of the second half. Houston is also one of the top offensive teams in the game. They average 5.01 runs scored per game.
With the Astros clinching the AL West title, the American League postseason field is set. Here's the postseason picture:
- Wild Card Game: Athletics vs. Yankees
- ALDS: Wild Card Game winner at Red Sox
- ALDS: Indians at Astros
The Red Sox have already clinched the best record in baseball and the Astros have clinched a better record than the Indians, so Boston and Houston will indeed be the home teams in the ALDS. The only thing still up for grabs in the AL is home field advantage in the Wild Card Game. The Yankees have a magic number of two to clinch that.
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