HOUSTON – It took until there are just six days of the regular season baseball left, but for the first time this season, the Houston Astros will wake up with a chance to clinch the American League west division title.
Houston (99-57) took care of the Blue Jays, 5-3 in the opener of their three game series on Monday evening. That win lowered their magic number to just 2. That's as low as it would get on Monday, since Oakland won their game, beating the Mariners, 7-3.
The Astros quickly took the lead when Yuli Gurriel singled in George Springer in the opening inning. Brian McCann and Josh Reddick hit back-to-back home runs in the second inning and the Astros never trailed.
Houston's bullpen delivered four shutout innings to close out the win. Roberto Osuna, pitching in Toronto for the first time since his trade to the Astros earlier this season, earned his 10th save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Impressive rookie Josh James will make his third career start on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. James has struck out 24 batters and allowed just ten hits in 16 innings over four appearances as he continues to push for a spot on the Astros playiff roster.
Any combination of Astros wins and Athletics losses equaling two will clinch the AL west division title for the Astros.
The Astros clinched a playoff berth on Friday.
The A's (95-62) play their final five games of the season on the road as they'll be at Seattle on Tuesday & Wednesday, followed by three games at Anaheim.
The Astros hold a four and a half game lead in the AL west over the A's.
If the Astros win the division, they will be the number two seed and have home-field advantage against the Indians in the American League Divisional Series.
The A's clinched their own playoff berth before their game finished when the Tampa Bay Rays were beaten, 4-1, by the Yankees.
Houston has now reached the playoffs in three of the past four seasons and is still within range of posting the top regular season record in franchise history. The 1998 Astros finished 102-60, so this year's team needs to finish with at least 4 wins in their final 6 games to set a new mark.
Houston closes their season with games Tuesday and Wednesday at Toronto beginning Monday, followed by a four-game series at Baltimore.
6:05 p.m. Houston (Josh James) at Toronto (Sam Gaviglio)
9:05 p.m. Oakland (Brett Anderson) at Seattle (Mike Leake)
Houston 5, Toronto 3
Oakland 7, Seattle 3