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Can Rangers Use Astros As Springboard to Hot Stretch?

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 21: Manager Jeff Banister #28 of the Texas Rangers watches from the dugout during the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 21, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    The last time the Texas Rangers went to Houston, they were coming off an awful April and were one of the worst teams in all of baseball. They were going down Interstate 45 to face the hottest team in baseball, at the time, in the surprising first-place Astros who had won nine straight games.

    Somehow, the Rangers swept Houston on the road and used that momentum to go on to have the best May in all of baseball and put themselves right in the thick of the AL West race and the Wild Card race.

    Things have trended down a bit since then, but they're now entering the second half of the season six games behind first-place Los Angeles in the West and 5 1/2 games behind the Astros. And sure enough, the Rangers head to Houston to start the second half.

    This time, the Astros are losers of six straight games and seem to be ripe for the picking as their offense has been killed by George Springer's injury that has him on the DL.

    The Rangers are the best road team in baseball and have scored road sweeps of teams like Houston and the Yankees. This three-game set in Houston starts a nine-game road trip that includes stops in Colorado to face an awful Rockies team and then a key trip to Anaheim to face the first-place Angels.

    In case you haven't figured it out, that's six games in the next nine on the road, where the Rangers excel, against the two teams the Rangers are chasing in the division.

    Could they possibly score another sweep in Houston and head into Los Angeles red hot with a chance to possibly pull right back into the AL West hunt? It's definitely possible, but the Rangers need to rekindle some of that May magic to do so.