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In Massive Texas Battle, Can the Astros Beat the Rangers to Win the Division or Will There Be a Dark Horse From 2,315 Miles Away

Published 09/24/2023, 12:05 PM EDT

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The battle in the AL West is nearing its climax. Stakes are high, motivations are strong, and tempers are running hot. Perhaps one of the most engaging divisional battles MLB has seen in recent years is currently taking place. With the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics firmly out of postseason contention, the other three teams are locked in a three-way battle. Unfortunately for the Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers just stole the top spot.

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It was supposed to be another easy trip to the postseason for the reigning World Series champs. But it’s the last week of the regular season. Only eight games remain, but even an apparently easy schedule is proving to be tough. In a huge surprise, the Kansas City Royals just snatched a 7-5 victory against the Astros yesterday. Houston lost the top AL West spot to Texas. Which of these two will now win the war? Or will the division’s dark horse leave the two in the dust, taking a victory for itself?

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Having lost seven of their last ten games, tensions are running high in H-town. Just when they need things to go their way, it seems like the baseball gods are exacting some form of revenge against the Astros. Facing off against the Royals, the team with the second-worst record in the league, seemed like an easy chance at victory. Until Houston seemingly wasted opportunities and let Kansas City get the best of them.

Framber Valdez was not in top form on the mound and gave up six earned runs, obviously angry at himself, throwing his glove around. What’s worrying for the Houston team is their defense full of holes, which gives up too many runs at the beginning. In desperate need of good starters, the Astros need to tighten up their pitching game. Even with Justin Verlander back in orange, The Stars have had no luck.


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While the Astros are imploding after a good season, the Rangers are finally coming back to their own selves. After an up-and-down season, the team is starting to fire up again. Probably still reeling from a long losing streak induced by what many think was copying a New York Yankees‘ haloed tradition, Texas is eager to return to top form. Out of their last ten games, they have won six, the last four in a row.


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Anyone would be hyped up on this series of victories, eager for more. But while the Rangers stay hot on the Astros’ heels, will a dark horse emerge from 2315 mile away to take it all from Houston instead?

It’s the Wild, Wild West

Until next Friday arrives, AL West fans’ nerves might reach a breaking point. It’s like watching an edge-of-the-seat thriller, with each game for each team turning things around. It’s thrilling and adrenaline-inducing, with every side unwilling to give up this late in the season.

On September 29, the Rangers will face off against the Mariners, the forgotten third-place team in the division. At 86-68, the Lone Star State leads the AL West; at 85-70, Space City trails second; and at 84-70, Emerald City is not far behind. Houston has fallen to third in the AL Wild Card standings, with Seattle a half-game behind.


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It’s a crucial few days in the upcoming week with none of the teams willing to give an edge. It’s an important season for the Mariners, who made it to the postseason in 2022 for the first time since 2001. The Rangers are having a special year too, ending the season with a winning record for the first time since 2016. But even with Verlander’s ex-teammate now in their bullpen, the Rangers have faced troubles as of late.

The Astros have won their division for five years in a row, making a trip to the World Series four times in that time span, and winning twice. But what should be easy is still turning out to be more than difficult. The next week and a half will decide the results as teams go head-to-head, each desperate for a victory.

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One club’s success is assured as the division leader. The other two may knock the Toronto Blue Jays out of the second Wild Card spot to make it to October. At most one team’s dreams will end in September. Who will it be? All that can be said right now is, may the odds be ever in their favor.

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Written by:

Arunima Bhanot


One take at a time

Arunima Bhanot is an MLB writer at EssentiallySports. Her tryst with MLB was accidental, but what followed was nothing short of a pursuit of excellence. Arunima's articles have been recognized as Editor's Picks on multiple occasions, highlighting her exceptional attention to detail and insightful coverage.
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Edited by:

Deepanshi Bajaj