AL Team Becomes First To Clinch A Playoff Spot

After a 5-0 victory that displayed the level of depth and talent they have shown all year, as well as a loss for the Baltimore Orioles, the Houston Astros became the first MLB team to clinch a playoff spot on Friday.

The Astros have dominated their division this year, going 95-51 and leading the second-place Mariners by 14 games. The team has consistently been one of, if not the strongest teams in the American League since their tank-job in the late 00’s and early 2010’s started to pay dividends. Their core of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and the now-departed Gerritt Cole and Carlos Correa have made them a perfect foil to the Los Angeles Dodgers, especially since the revelation of their sign-stealing system became public in 2019. Along with the previously mentioned players, the ‘Stros have gotten strong performances from young stars Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, and Jeremy Pena. Alvarez in particular has been exceptional, and he showed off his monstrous power with a 3-homer game against the A’s.

As the regular season nears its end, Houston seems poised for a deep playoff run. Their top AL competition, the Yankees, looked formidable before a second-half collapse revealed a host of weaknesses. In the Central division, three teams were neck-and-neck until a recent win streak pulled the Guardians into first, although with by far the worst record of the three division leaders. The Astros will be looking to add a second World Series win since they re-emerged as contenders, and their first since the sign-stealing operation was revealed. It would also be the first World Series of manager Dusty Baker’s long tenure as a major league manager, though not his first ever; he won a championship in 1981 as an outfielder for the Dodgers, who ironically are now his top rivals. 

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