IT'S ALL HAPPENING

Should you need it, here’s the definitive list of why it’s happening for Astros

The Astros' magic number is 2. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With a nod to Rod Stewart, tonight's the night. The Astros will be crowned American League West champs if they beat the Tampa Rays at home and the Mariners lose to the A's on the west coast. Yeah, the Astros are slogging their way toward the finish line, it's not fun watching the other team walk it off of late, but the pennant is there for the taking, and it's gonna happen. It's just a matter of time zones, tonight, tomorrow or the next day. But it's gonna happen.

It can't not happen. The Astros' magic number is 2, so any combination of Astros wins or Mariners losses equaling two, and it's a done deal - the Astros will take the AL West title and open the post-season next week most likely against the White Sox, probably (hopefully) at Minute Maid Park.

Stop worrying. For the Astros to blow their 4-1/2 game lead with only six left to play, all at home, would take a monumental, catastrophic, unimaginable collapse unprecedented in baseball history.

To quote another music legend, Justin Bieber, never say never, but I'm saying never, not in a million years will the Astros throw away this division title

The Astros have too much going for them. First baseman Yuli Gurriel is battling for a batting title. Jose Altuve is having a terrific power season. Shortstop Carlos Correa has $300 million in his eyes if he's a hero in the playoffs, third baseman Alex Bregman is back in full swagger, Kyle Tucker may be the best hitter in the league right now and the Astros have the "problem" of three future outfield stars – Chas McCormick, Jake Meyers and Jose Siri – with steady Michael Brantley champing at the bit to return to the lineup.

You need a civil surveyor to measure the distance of a Yordan Alvarez homer. Lance McCullers is a full-fledged ace starter. Ryan Pressly is a dependable closer – sometimes. This is a solid, star-packed roster. All that's left are hat and horns and goggles.

As they say in the business world, the Astros are too big to fail. Then again … Enron.

To date, the most horrendous collapse was in 1964, when the Phillies had a 6-1/2 game lead on Sept. 21 with 12 left to play. The league had given them permission to print World Series tickets, back then the sign the pennant was locked up.

The Phils proceeded to lose 10 in a row and actually fell behind eventual pennant winning Cardinals by 2-1/2 games that final week. The Phillies rallied the last weekend to finish one game out, tied with the Reds for second. The Phils didn't make the post-season for another 12 years.

The Astros do have real problems beyond capturing the AL West. Let's hope the White Sox don't catch on to Jose Altuve trying to crush the first pitch every game. Everybody at home watching on TV knows it's coming. Like the Progressive commercial with the guy with blue hair – we all see it. And the opposing pitcher still starts Altuve off with a fastball down the middle.

Something else I haven't understood all season – the sound quality of manager Dusty Baker's post-game press conferences. We can talk to astronauts in space like we're calling Domino's for a pizza, yet Osama bin Laden's videos from a cave in Afghanistan had clearer sound quality than Dusty's press conferences. Heck, the speaker at Jack in the Box is easier to understand than Dusty explaining why he pulled Yordan Alvarez from a tight game.

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