Series preview: AL West's top 2 teams battle as Astros host A's

(2018 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – A crucial series is on tap as the Astros (80-50) host the A's (79-52) at Minute Maid Park for a three-game series to start the week.

Houston holds a 1.5-game lead over Oakland in the American League West division.

The A's are coming off a series against the Twins in which Oakland won three out of four games. Houston swept the Angels in Los Angeles over the weekend.

Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games and Houston is riding a five-game winning streak.

The Astros have allowed the fewest runs in the majors and have a run differential of +214, also the best in the league.

The Astros have struggled at home this season, with a 33-29 record at Minute Maid Park compared to a 47-21 record on the road.

The A's have a 40-26 record on the road.

With 31 games remaining, the three-game series will have a significant impact on the division race.

Houston will trot out Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel as the starters in the series.

Jose Altuve returned to the Astros lineup over the weekend, after an extended absence with knee discomfort. George Springer is expected to come back from a nagging injury that has kept him out of the starting lineup for about a week.

Pitching matchups:

Monday: Brett Anderson (3-3, 3.47 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (11-5, 2.73 ERA)

Tuesday: Edwin Jackson (4-3, 2.97 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.05 ERA)

Wednesday: Trevor Cahill (5-3, 3.44 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (10-10, 3.54 ERA)