It’s June 6th, and the Texas Rangers (34-22) have the best record in the American League. This week they play the Houston Astros (28-30, -7.0), who were assumed to be their biggest competition in the AL West heading into the year.
On May 22nd I wondered if the Astros just weren’t all they were hyped up to be, which was easier to ask since they were in last place, ten games below .500 (17-27), and fresh off being swept by the Rangers for the second time in as many 2016 meetings.
Since that day Houston is 11-3. (You’re welcome, stupid Astros.) They’ve outscored opponents 69-46 (+23) and have moved into third place, just 4 games behind the second place Mariners — who themselves were just swept by the Rangers. Against everyone else, the Astros are 28-24 (.560) with a +5 run differential; against Texas they are 0-6 with a -15 difference.
Unfortunately for Houston, their recent hot stretch has been counterfeited by a just-as-hot Rangers team. Since sweeping the Astros on May 22nd, Texas has gone 9-3 and lost zero games in the loss column.
For the time being, Houston has no better chance than right now to shave the gap between themselves and Texas. Head-to-head matchups are how the Rangers stole the West from the Astros in 2015. One way or another, by the end of the series Texas will either lead the Astros by 11 games, 9 games, 7 games, 5 games or 3 games.
So it’s all good.