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The most important game between the two Texas teams in quite some time proved to be a total disaster for the Texas Rangers. Monday afternoon the Rangers blew an early 3-0 lead and a later 5-4 lead in an eventual 13-6 loss (box score) to the Houston Astros. The game moved Houston into a virtual tie for first place in the AL West, and the Rangers into third place.

Here are the updated AL West standings with the Seattle Mariners dropping Monday's game to the Cincinnati Reds (CIN 6, SEA 3):

  1. Mariners: 77-60
  2. Astros: 78-61
  3. Rangers: 76-61 (1 GB)

The Mariners are percentage points ahead of the Astros, and they have already clinched the season series. That could come in handy given the tight race. The Mariners still have a whole bunch of games remaining with the Astros and Rangers, you know. (With all due respect to the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics, they are no longer factors in the AL West race.)

Corey Seager powered the Rangers early Monday, swatting a first-inning two-run homer and a fifth-inning solo homer. The Astros battled back thanks to back-to-back homers by Mauricio Dubón and Jose Altuve then they took control in the seventh inning. José Abreu drew a bases-loaded walk, Seager made a costly two-run error, and Yainer Diaz clubbed a three-run homer.

Dubón and Altuve, Houston's No. 9 and No. 1 hitters, went back-to-back in the ninth inning as well. In the first game of their most important series of the season (so far), Texas used catcher Austin Hedges on the mound to mop things up.

The Rangers are 4-13 in their last 17 games and have blown a lead of at least three runs in each of their last three games. Their bullpen has a 5.05 ERA in the second half, the sixth highest in baseball, and their 29 "meltdowns" are the ninth most. Meltdowns are relief appearances that decrease the team's win probability by at least 6%. Those outings tend to lead to losses.

For the Astros, Monday's win snaps a three-game losing streak -- they were swept at home by the New York Yankees over the weekend -- and also clinched the season series against the Rangers. They now hold the tiebreaker, which is important given how tight the AL West race (and wild-card race) is at the moment.

The two Texas clubs will continue this three-game series Tuesday night. Lefty Framber Valdez (10-9, 3.38 ERA) will start for Houston. The Rangers have not yet announced their starter. Nathan Eovaldi (11-3, 2.69 ERA) will come off the injured list to make the start. Eovaldi has been out since July 18 with an elbow issue.