Monday marks the beginning of a big home stand for the Houston Astros. This home stand isn’t just big in length, but big in postseason-positioning importance. The Astros enter Monday with a 15-13 record, four and a half games behind the division leading Oakland Athletics. With 10 games at home against the Los Angeles Angels, the aforementioned A’s, and the Texas Rangers, this could be the most important stretch of the season so far.
Currently residing in the basement of the AL West, the Angels have had a rough season, especially of late. Coming into Monday, the Angels have given up 162 runs, the most in the AL. They are 9-20, tied for last in the AL, and they are 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Astros are playing them at a good time as the Angels have suffered some rough defeats as of late. If Houston is to catch the A’s at the top, taking three out of four against the sliding Angels is a must. While sweeping a four game series is extremely hard, a sweep would obviously do wonders in their ascent up the standings.
The middle series of the Astros home stand is perhaps the most critical. It is a three game series against the AL West leading A’s. Entering Monday, the A’s are 20-9, four and a half games ahead of Houston. That record is the best in the AL, as the A’s just keep finding ways to win. Now, the Astros would still be in the playoffs if they are in second place, but the A’s lead is not insurmountable. While home field advantage doesn’t mean as much without fans, Houston plays much better at home (10-4), so winning the AL West would be massive to this club. This series will be the second to last time these teams face off, so an Astros series win is critical.
Like the Angels, the Rangers have disappointed in this shortened season, which should benefit the Astros. Entering Monday, the Rangers are 10-17, and have lost eight straight. After an off day, Houston will face them September 1st. Teams can heat up in a week, but if Texas continues to struggle they would be taken down much easier. Teams with a lot of expectations can sometimes be easier to defeat than teams with less expectations, because they are deflated. Houston is hoping this will be the case. With seven games against deflated teams, all at home, the Astros are in a position climb their way up in the standings.
There is good news heading into this home stand, as Jose Altuve has finally started to heat up. Before an 0 for 4 on Sunday, he was 9 for 18, with four straight multi-hit games. Altuve will have to continue stepping up without Alex Bregman for the Astros to have a successful home stand. Going at least 7-3 during this big stretch can put Houston within striking distance of the A’s. Great play on this home stand would hopefully pay dividends for when they the A’s for the final time, in a pivotal four game series, September 7th-10th.
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