Texas took game one of the series against Seattle on Friday night 8-5 to not only move ahead of Seattle by one game but also jumped ahead of Houston for the AL West division lead. It was a game that saw Texas get off to a strong start offensively behind home runs from Corey Seager and rookie Evan Carter. Then they had a four-run fifth inning that pushed the lead out to 8-0. Seattle made a late push behind a three-run home run from Cal Raleigh and then scored one run against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. Josh Jung was able to close it out with a great diving stop and throw to first that ended the game. Texas is truly a beneficiary of the way the schedule is breaking down and took advantage of it on Friday night. If Texas plays their cards right they could parlay this schedule into winning the division.
The remaining schedule and how it favors the Texas Rangers
It is not by accident that Texas is starting their three best-starting pitchers this weekend. That was completely by design. Texas wanted to line up Montgomery and Eovaldi to go in this series. If Scherzer had been healthy he also would have been lined up to pitch in this series. Texas knows that how they play this weekend at home against Seattle and next weekend in Seattle will determine if they make the playoffs. They lined up their pitching and got their players healthy in time to be able to play in this series.
Seattle though while wanting to win this series lined up their best starting pitchers to go against the Astros in their series that starts on Monday. Texas is going to be able to avoid George Kirby and Luis Castillo this weekend. In Seattle's defense that does line up both pitchers to then pitch against Texas on Saturday and Sunday the last two days of the season. Seattle clearly took a look at these two series and prioritized Houston, while Texas put more importance on the Mariners series.
Houston as they should do is focusing on the Mariners over the Kansas City Royals. They are saving Justin Verlander and Cristian Javier for the Mariners with Framber Valdez likely going in the final game of the series. It will be a duel for what was expected to be the division title. Houston lost game one of their series against Kansas City with Valdez on the mound 7-5. That loss allowed Texas to jump over Houston for the division lead.
Texas Rangers' path toward winning the AL West
Texas has a path to stealing the division title away from both Seattle and Houston. If they win one or both of the final two games against Seattle and Houston loses one or both to the Royals then Texas could take a 1.5 game lead with them to Anaheim to face an Angels team that is just trying to finish out the season. If Texas takes all three from the Angels while Houston and Seattle are playing, that will allow them to grow their division lead. Texas would then need to just win one maybe two games to close out the division in Seattle. That would leave Houston and Seattle to battle it out for the wild card spots.
For as much as fans and media have been focused on the failures of the Texas Rangers this month the Astros have been worse. Houston is 8-12 in the month of September while Texas is now 10-10. Neither is doing great, but Houston's struggles have opened the door for Texas. The division is there for them with nine games to go. It is amazing that it has come to this, but Texas is now fully healthy offensively. They are getting more consistent positive results from the bullpen. If they can continue to win this weekend then the last week is perfectly set up for them to take the division.
The series between Seattle and Texas continues Saturday night with a matchup of Jordan Montgomery going up against Logan Gilbert. Montgomery is coming off consecutive dominant seven inning performances. Gilbert has allowed three or more runs in each of his last three starts. Texas has a chance to win the series tonight and move one step closer to not only the playoffs but a potential division championship.