ALWAYS BE CLOSING

Houston Astros within striking distance of clinching top seed in AL

Astros magic number down to two. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

With no game on Monday, the Astros are rested and back in action Tuesday night at Minute Maid against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Luis Garcia (13-8, 3.90 ERA) will make the start for Houston, with Zach Davies (2-4, 4.03 ERA) pitching for the D-Backs. Lance McCullers was originally scheduled to pitch, but was scratched due to an "illness."


Magic number: 2

The Astros currently sit atop the AL sporting a 101-53 record, 6.5 games ahead of the 94-59 New York Yankees. So the Astros could clinch the AL on Tuesday with a win over the Diamondbacks, and a Yankees loss. The Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. The Yankees are 1.5 run underdogs according to online betting sites.

The Astros can also clinch by winning their next two games, regardless of what happens with the Yankees. Both the Yankees and the Astros are playing well currently, as both clubs have won 7 of their last 10 games.

With the Yankees game starting about an hour before the Astros take on the Diamondbacks, the Astros may know the results of Yankees-Blue Jays while they're trying to finish off the D-Backs. So be sure to watch tonight's Astros game because we could see some fun celebrations if the Astros manage to win and the Yankees fall to Toronto.

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James Harden returned to Houston Monday night and lost to the Rockets in double overtime. After the game, Harden complimented the maturation of the Rockets young players, and had some nice things to say about Houston.

Harden has a player option and can opt out after the season, which has some Rockets fans wondering if he would consider returning to Houston and taking over as the team's primary ball handler.

Plus, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has said he wouldn't rule out Harden returning at some point.

Be sure to watch the video above as we break down all the angles involving a potential fit for James Harden with Houston's young core of players, and much more.

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Catch The Bench with John and Lance weekdays from 7-10 AM on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

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