The Astros didn't do much to mark the occasion of qualifying for the postseason for the fourth time in five years Wednesday following their 3-2 home victory over the Texas Rangers, waiting instead to achieve one of their primary goals heading into the season.
Wednesday's win, which pushed Houston to 100-53 this season, reduced the magic number to clinch a third consecutive American League West pennant to two games over the Oakland Athletics.
The Astros could conceivably complete that task Friday when they host the Los Angeles Angels (69-84) in the opener of a three-game weekend series that will conclude their home schedule until the postseason begins.
The Astros have reached 100 wins for the third successive season in large part by playing exceptionally at home, going 58-20 at Minute Maid Park. Houston is a robust 30-5 at home against division opponents, with one of those losses coming July 5 when the Angels won 5-4 against AL Cy Young Award frontrunner Justin Verlander.
A sweep of the Angels this weekend would enable the Astros to match their franchise record for victories of 103, set last season. Beyond that, a successful series would keep Houston in contention for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
"One hundred three years in a row is a lot, and I love it for this team and for this organization and it's a big accomplishment," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It's one step along the way for us in what we're trying to accomplish this season, and I don't want that to be the high note by any means. I want to take a moment to congratulate our team and get to the next game and see how many we can win."
Right-hander Zack Greinke (16-5, 2.95 ERA) will start the series opener for the Astros. He is 6-1 with a 3.10 ERA over eight starts since joining Houston at the trade deadline and, since suffering his lone loss with the Astros, is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA over his last two starts with 12 strikeouts against zero walks over 12 innings.
Greinke is 5-5 with a 3.84 ERA over 14 career appearances (13 starts) against the Angels, for whom he went 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA over 13 starts after joining the club via trade from the Milwaukee Brewers on July 27, 2012.
Right-hander Jaime Barria (4-9, 5.95 ERA) will start the series opener for the Angels on Friday. Eight of his last nine appearances have come as a starter, posting a 1-6 record with a 4.85 ERA during that stretch while allowing an .800 OPS.
Barria is 2-6 with a 4.73 ERA over 11 starts this season with 51 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings.
In five career starts against the Astros, Barria is 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA. He has faced Houston once this season, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in an 11-2 loss in Houston on Aug. 25.
The Angels have dropped 12 of 16 games overall, most recently losing 9-1 to the Yankees in New York on Thursday. They are 3-9 against the Astros with five consecutive losses in the season series.
--Field Level Media