The Texas Rangers lost three of the four games in this weekend's wraparound series against Houston. It was definitely a learning experience for this team which is a mixture of veterans and young players alike. It was a reminder that while the Rangers still have the division lead, the Astros are the team that owns the division. Several players on this team have been in playoff races but never before as a unit. There are some experiences this team needs to go through to better prepare them and losing this series in the way that they did hopefully will prepare them for the variety of challenges that a playoff race will throw at them. I want to break this series down with five areas of improvement for the Texas Rangers to tackle in order to dethrone the Astros as AL West champions.
AL West still runs through Houston
I know the Texas Rangers are now three games up in the division and have led the division for much of this season, but the defending World Series champion Houston Astros still own this division. The Rangers are going to have to go through Houston to win it. The Astros are not going to go let Texas have this one. They are going to fight with everything they have to win this division. Monday's series finale showed that Texas has the fight in them. They just couldn't finish it off late once again.
The worrying thing for Texas is that Houston was missing their best player in Yordan Alvarez and did not get a start from Framber Valdez who was scratched on Sunday. It did not matter as Houston still won three of four and won the game Valdez was scheduled to start. That is definitely concerning for the Rangers.
This race is going to go one of three ways. Texas responds to these setbacks, gets back on a roll, and wins the division. Second, it is a fight all the way to the end and one of the two wins a close race in September. The third way the race could go is if Texas continues to play poorly, gives up the division lead, and Houston runs away with it after the All-Star break. It is up to the Rangers' players to respond with the same fight they showed on Monday afternoon in these last six games before the break. If that happens then they will go into the break with momentum.