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Texas Rangers Sweep Houston Take 2 1/2-Game Lead in AL West

The Texas Rangers are on a roll. The Rangers on Thursday beat the Houston Astros their American West rivals 8-2. The win capped a four-game swept of the Astros and moved the Rangers 2 ½ games in front of Houston after on Monday they were 1 ½ games behind the Astros when the series started.

The Astros still lead Minnesota for the second AL wildcard spot by 1 ½ games.

The destruction by the Rangers was not a fluke, Texas never trailed over the final 23 innings of the series and only trailed at the end of an inning three times over 36 innings.

The Rangers scored 9 runs off Dallas Keuchel one of the AL leading candidates for the Cy Young award.

Texas out homered the Astros 8 to 2 in the series and the Astros are No. 2 in the AL with 199 home runs.

Texas has won seven games straight and 11 of its past 13 against Houston.

Jeff Banister the Texas manager said sweeping any four-game series is tough, but especially against a team the caliber of the Astros.

The only positive thing the Astros have is they are returning home and are 48-24 on their home field. Houston starts a nine game home stand that will conclude with three games against Texas.

As was the case the entire series, the middle of the batting order for Texas was very productive.

Shin-Soo Choo, who ended the game with four hits, singled to left and then moved up a base on a walk to Prince Fielder. After a strike out by Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland hit a homer for a 3-0 lead in the third.

The home run by Moreland was his 21st and tied Fielder for the lead on the team. The 75 runs batted in by Moreland this season are second on the Rangers.

The Rangers have waited years for Moreland to blossom. He has shown he has this type of talent in years past, but injuries seemingly derailed his progress always.

Moreland was on the DL for a short while in May, but in spring training made his entire approach at home plate much simpler and that has paid off for him this season.

The decision by manager Banister to give Mike Napoli a third start in left gave Houston a chance to get back into the game.

Napoli misplayed a fourth inning line drive that allowed a run to score. The next batter was hit by the pitcher and then a loop single scored a run tightening the game to 3-2.

However, from then on it was all Texas as they scored the game’s final 5 runs to win 8-2.

Texas has 16 games remaining and Houston 15 before the end of the regular season and the two will play head to head three times more so this race is yet to be decided.

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