Astros vs. Rangers: What Needs to Happen

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With the two top teams in the AL West set to face each other seven times over the final few weeks of the regular season, a lot is still up in the air as to who will end the season atop the division.

Heading into Tuesday's games, the Rangers are only two games back of the Houston Astros, and the teams are playing the bottom two teams in the division as the Rangers are in Seattle and the Astros are visiting last-place Oakland, who beat Houston on Monday.

With the A's sending ace Sonny Gray to the mound against former A's pitcher Scott Kazmir, there's a greater than zero chance the Astros lose again on Tuesday night. The Rangers send Cole Hamels to the hill, meaning there's about an equal chance the Rangers win to move within one game.

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But nevermind all that. Right now, Texas is two games back of Houston with seven games remaining — four in Arlington beginning next Monday and three in Houston toward the end of the month.

So when the Astros come to town on Monday, where do the Rangers need to be? It's a good question. Their remaining schedules look about the same, as both teams are loaded up with AL West teams and only one remaining series against a non-divisional opponent — Texas at home against Detroit and Houston on the road to Arizona.

If the Rangers can be within three games of Houston come Monday, they're going to feel really good about it as they've had the leg up on the season series so far, winning eight of the 12 matchups so far. That's not to mention the fact the Rangers' roster is just more impressive at the moment than Houston's is, both in the lineup and on the pitching staff.

Three games back should be the goal come Monday, and anything better than that would be a bonus.

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