Astros clinch AL West for 5th time in 6 years, beat Rays 4-0

Sep 19, 2022, 7:01 AM | Updated: 8:09 pm
Houston Astros players celebrate in the clubhouse after clinching the American League West title wi...

Houston Astros players celebrate in the clubhouse after clinching the American League West title with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Houston Astros clinched their fifth AL West title in six years, getting a leadoff home run from Jose Altuve in a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

“It’s been a great start to the season,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “This is a first step in the right direction for this ballclub. We’ve just got to stay focused and know what a tough task is ahead of us.”

Headed to the postseason for the sixth straight season, Houston won for the eighth time in nine games and improved the AL’s best record to 97-51.

“This is the start of it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You’ve got to get to this point first, and then you get to the next point and the next point and the next point. You’ve just got to appreciate where we are right now, and get back to work tomorrow.”

Houston has led by the division by nine games or more since June 15.

“Even though we expected to be here, it’s never something I take for granted,” pitcher Justin Verlander said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of teams that made the playoffs, but I’ve played with guys who played 10 years and never experienced this. All those things kind of run through your head in these situations.”

Luis Garcia (13-8) won his fifth straight decision, giving up two hits and four walks in five innings while striking out four. Hunter Brown pitched three innings and Héctor Neris finished the five-hitter, the Astros 16th shutout this season.

“It was a fun ride and we’ve got to enjoy it,” said catcher Christian Vázquez, who was acquired on Aug. 1. “This is the first step and if we continue to do our thing, we’re going to be fine.”

Tampa Bay (82-65) is in position for the second of three AL wild card berths, one game behind Toronto (83-64) and a half-game ahead of Seattle (81-65).

After the three-game series that ends Wednesday, the Rays host the Blue Jays in a four-game series.

José Ramírez had three of the Rays’ five hits.

Drew Rasmussen (10-6) gave up four runs and six hits in six innings. He has allowed four runs in consecutive starts and giving up three runs or fewer during 11 in a row.

“I thought I did a better job of executing pitches today, but their refusal to strike out came up big for them,” Rasmussen said.

Altuve hit his 25th homer on the fifth pitch of the game, his 11th leadoff homer this season and 32nd of his career.

Altuve singled leading off the sixth, Jeremy Peña walked and Yordan Alvarez hit an RBI single. Bregman followed with a broken-bat, two-run double.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) is to make his fourth rehab start Friday for Triple-A Durham. He retired all six batters he faced Sunday night and struck out four.

UP NEXT

All-Star LHP Shane McClanahan (12-5, 2.13) will pitch for the Rays on Tuesday night against RHP Cristian Javier (9-9, 2.87), who has won three straight starts.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Signage at the headquarters of the NCAA is viewed in Indianapolis, March 12, 2020. The NCAA ...
Associated Press

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down. Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Former El Salvador soccer boss sentenced in US bribery case

NEW YORK (AP) — The former president of El Salvador’s soccer federation was sentenced on Thursday to 16 months in prison in the long-running FIFA corruption scandal. Reynaldo Vasquez, 66, told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn that he felt “great shame” over his role in a bribery scheme that involved media and marketing […]
1 day ago
FILE - Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett leaves the field after the first half of an NFL...
Associated Press

Garrett back with Browns, cited for speeding following crash

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns All-Pro Myles Garrett returned to the team’s headquarters Thursday after crashing his car earlier this week when police said he lost control while speeding on a rural road after practice. Garrett veered his Porsche off the hilly road near his home a few hours after practice Monday, flipping the […]
1 day ago
Atlanta Braves catcher William Contreras celebrates with relief pitcher Tyler Matzek after a baseba...
Associated Press

Big series in A-T-L: Mets vs Braves with NL East on the line

ATLANTA (AP) — Two months into the season, it looked like the New York Mets were headed for an NL East runaway. Not so fast, said the reigning World Series champions. Sparked by two budding stars, the Atlanta Braves suddenly found their mojo. Now, they’re a mere game behind the Mets heading into the biggest […]
1 day ago
Supporters of the the The Minnesota Vikings team cheer at a fan interaction event at The Brotherhoo...
Associated Press

NFL teams use new rights to jockey for fans, revenue in UK

LONDON (AP) — The “J-E-T-S” chants gave way to British-accented berating of quarterback Joe Flacco at the London sports pub where fans watched the Cincinnati Bengals ease to victory last week. Sebastian Randazzo is optimistic, though. The young Englishman who founded a Jets fan club said interest in the NFL is “absolutely booming.” “Hopefully we […]
1 day ago
United States' Breanna Stewart waves to a supporter in the crowd following their win over Bosnia an...
Associated Press

Without Griner, US using versatile posts Stewart and Wilson

SYDNEY (AP) — Without Brittney Griner’s 6-foot-8 presence to dominate around the basket, the U.S. women needed to figure out how to overcome her absence. So far, so good. The Americans have rolled through the World Cup, beating opponents by average of 44 points per game without Griner and one of the best frontcourts ever […]
1 day ago
Astros clinch AL West for 5th time in 6 years, beat Rays 4-0