9/30 update: Houston held on for a 2-1 win in Arizona on Friday night, moving to just a game back of the Rangers in the AL West while cutting their Wild Card magic number to two — any combination of two wins and Mariners losses will clinch a postseason berth for the ‘Stros. As for the division, Houston’s elimination number remains two. If Texas wins out this weekend in Seattle, they win the division. If they go 1-1, Houston can steal the West by going 2-0 and winning the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Rangers lose both Saturday and Sunday, however, things get a bit more interest: If Houston wins each of its next two games, it captures the division, but if it splits this weekend, it would lose the three-way tie to Seattle by virtue of a worse intradivision record.
Hard as it is to believe, we’ve officially reached the final weekend of the 2023 MLB regular season. Five of the league’s six divisional races have been decided, but there’s still plenty to be settled over the next few days — including the AL Wild Card and AL West races, both of which involve the reigning World Series champion Astros. Houston hasn’t quite caught fire the way many expected after their aggressive trade deadline, but after taking two of three against the Mariners in Seattle earlier this week, they’re still in good shape to make it back to October and try to defend their title. Let’s take a look at where the Astros stand with a three days left in the season and their magic number to seal up a postseason berth.
Astros’ magic number
Wild Card: 2
Division elimination number: 2
Another AL West title will be a tricky proposition for Houston, who enters Friday trailing the Rangers by two games. The Astros do have the head-to-head tiebreaker after taking the season series against Texas, though, so things aren’t quite as dire as they seem. A sweep of the Diamondbacks in Arizona this weekend would do wonders; lose even one of their final three games, and all Texas needs is one win over their next three to eliminate Houston from divisional contention.
There also remains the possibility of a three-way tie atop the division. If Houston goes 2-1 and Texas goes 0-3, the Rangers, Astros and Mariners will all finish with 89 wins — and each of the three have won the season series against one team but lost it against the other, meaning the tiebreaker will move to combined head-to-head record. Seattle would come out on top there and claim the division.
The Wild Card, however, is a much easier proposition for Houston: Any combination of three Astros wins and Mariners losses, and the final Wild Card spot is theirs.
AL West standings
1. Texas Rangers (89-71)
2. Houston Astros (88-72), 1.0 GB
3. Seattle Mariners (87-73), 2.0 GB
AL Wild Card standings
4. Seattle Mariners (87-73), 1.0 GB