Houston will finish on top of the division again

Astros clinch AL West crown with series win over Rays

Astros' Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa's three-run homer helped clinch the AL West for the Astros on Thursday night. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Carlos Correa's three-run homer helped clinch the AL West for the Astros on Thursday night.

After missing their chance to lock things up on Wednesday night, the Astros looked again to celebrate a division crown if they could best the Rays in the series finale on Thursday. Thanks to a big homer and another great start from Lance McCullers Jr., they would get it done to punch their ticket to the MLB playoffs.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rays 2

Astros' Record: 93-66, first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (13-5)

Losing Pitcher: Ryan Yarbrough (9-7)

Correa gives McCullers Jr. three runs of support

After three scoreless innings on both sides, the Astros put themselves in position to score in the bottom of the fourth, getting a leadoff single by the American League batting leader, Yuli Gurriel, followed by a walk. That brought Carlos Correa to the plate, and he delivered a three-run homer to start the scoring and give Houston a 3-0 lead.

Lance McCullers Jr. was cruising with that lead, allowing just one runner to that point, a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth, which he erased. After a 1-2-3 fifth, Tampa Bay would get to him in the top of the sixth, getting their first hit via a leadoff single, then a two-out two-run homer to trim the lead to one run. McCullers Jr. would go on to finish the inning, though, still in line for the win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 98 P.

Astros clinch the division

Ryne Stanek came out of the bullpen for the top of the seventh, maintaining the one-run lead by working around a one-out single. After stranding a runner in the bottom of the inning, Houston moved to their next reliever in the top of the eighth, Kendall Graveman.

Graveman hit the first batter he faced on the first pitch but was able to get a flyout and double play to maintain the lead. Houston went to their closer in the top of the ninth with their advantage still just one run, bringing in Ryan Pressly. He dealt with traffic, allowing a leadoff walk then watching another reach on an error, but a timely double play would set him up for a groundout to end the game and clinch the division for Houston for the fourth time in five years.

Up Next: The opener of the final regular-season series for Houston will start at 7:10 PM Central on Friday at Minute Maid Park. While the A's have tagged Sean Manaea as their starter, the Astros will take their rotation day by day in the lead-up to the postseason.

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Astros defeat the Orioles, 5-1. Composite Getty Image.

Ronel Blanco pitched seven strong innings and Chas McCormick homered twice to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Yordan Alvarez added a two-run shot to help Houston extend its winning streak to four games.

Blanco (8-2), who threw seven hitless innings in his last start, allowed four hits and a run with three strikeouts for his third straight win.

Alvarez put the Astros on top with his 16th homer, which came off Corbin Burnes (8-3) in the third, and McCormick made it 4-1 in the fifth. McCormick got his fifth career multihomer game when he connected again in the eighth.

Burnes allowed five hits, including a season-high two homers and a season-most four runs in seven innings to snap his career-best streak of 10 consecutive quality starts. He was 5-0 in seven starts since a loss at Washington on May 7.

Jordan Westburg homered in the second for the Orioles, who set a franchise record with 21 straight games with a home run to surpass the 1998 squad's 20-game streak.

Baltimore had troubled stringing hits together Saturday after scoring 28 runs combined in the last two games. The top four batters in their order combined to go 1 for 13 against Blanco and Houston's bullpen.

Ryan Pressly threw a scoreless eighth before Josh Hader struck out two in a perfect ninth to end it.

Westburg connected off Blanco with one out in the second to put the Orioles up 1-0.

Yainer Diaz opened Houston’s second with a triple on a line drive to right field. The Astros tied it when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Mauricio Dubón with one out.

McCormick singled with no outs in the third and the shot to center field by Alvarez came with two outs to put Houston on top 3-1.

McCormick’s home run to the seats in left field extended the lead to 4-1 with one out in the fifth.

Cedric Mullins tripled off the wall in center with one out in the seventh. Colton Cowser hit a sharp line drive, but was robbed of a hit when shortstop Jeremy Peña made a leaping catch for the second out. Blanco then retired Ramón Urías to end the inning and leave Mullins stranded.


Astros: RHP Jake Bloss, who made his major league debut Friday night, was placed on the injured list with right shoulder discomfort.


Astros: RHP Nick Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday night. ... LHP Bryan King was selected to the MLB roster and RHP Luis Contreras was recalled from Sugar Land on Saturday. … RHP Alex Speas was designated for assignment.


Houston LHP Framber Valdez (5-5, 3.91 ERA) opposes RHP Albert Suárez (3-1, 2.05) in the series finale Sunday.

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