The Houston Astros (83-75) have been in first place in either the AL West or the Wild Card for basically the entire season. But they wake up on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and find themselves a half-game back of the Los Angeles Angels (83-74) for the second Wild Card spot.
The Astros have been a great story – and they still can be – but Scott Ferrall thinks it would be a shame if they missed the playoffs after such a special season.
“Yeah, I think so too,” CBSSports.com MLB writer Mike Axisa said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “You look at their season, they started off great. I think they were like 18-7, something like that. But since then, they’ve basically been a .500 team and they’ve been extremely bad on the road. They have one of thew worst road records in baseball (30-47). It seems like every time they go on the road, they go like 1-7 or something ridiculous like that and that’s really set them back.”
The Astros have gone 2-4 against both the Angels and the Texas Rangers this month. They’ve lost nine of 15 overall, while the Angels have won seven straight.
Not a great combination if you’re an Astros fan.
“They have a bit of a soft schedule down the stretch, which might be their saving grace,” Axisa pointed out.
That’s true. The Astros face the Mariners in Seattle (75-83) on Wednesday before closing the regular season with a three-game series in Arizona (76-81). The Angels, meanwhile, have a decidedly tougher end-of-season schedule: a home game against Oakland (65-93) and a four-game set against the Rangers (85-72) in Texas.
But even if the Astros take care of business and win out, they’re going to need a little help.
“I think this is just a young team that maybe didn’t necessarily get overwhelmed by being in the race; maybe they just got worn down by the long season,” Axisa said. “Contending is not easy. Going from start to finish in first place and staying there, it’s not easy. It’s something a lot of these players haven’t experienced before. Maybe that’s a factor too.”
The Yankees (86-71), on the other hand, are in great shape not only to make the Wild Card, but also to host the one-game playoff. Still, they haven’t looked good down the stretch, going 7-12 in their last 19 games.
“They had a big six- or seven-game lead at the trade deadline,” Axisa said. “That’s gone. The Blue Jays blew by them. Whenever the Yankees play poorly, they look old. All their old players look like they’re moving in slow motion, the pitching hasn’t been good – and that’s what looks like is happening right now. But they’ve gone through this earlier in the season and they’ve bounced back. You just kind of wonder is this the end of the line for them? Are they not going to bounce back this time, or are they just getting it out of their system now and they’ll be okay for the postseason next week? I don’t know. That’s a fair question to ask. But they’re in good shape for the Wild Card right now. They haven’t clinched anything, but they’re in good shape.”