ARLINGTON (AP) — The Houston Astros know they will begin their best-of-5 American League Division Series at home in Minute Maid Park, with the opponent yet to be determined.
Carlos Correa, Brian McCann and Cameron Maybin had three RBIs each and Dallas Keuchel allowed one earned run and five hits in six innings as the Astros routed the Texas Rangers 14-3 on Tuesday night to clinch no worse than the second-best record in the AL.
Houston (97-60) trails Cleveland by one game with five to play in the race for the league’s best record. The Indians own the tiebreaker, having won the season series.
The Astros will face the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees or Minnesota Twins.
“This team has earned those first couple home games and home-field advantage,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ll see how it shakes out, who we play, but some playoff baseball’s coming to Minute Maid pretty soon.”
“We’re still trying to lock up home-field advantage (for the ALCS), too,” Keuchel said. “That would be real nice.”
Texas was eliminated from wild-card contention when Minnesota won earlier Tuesday night. The Rangers were only 2 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot with 10 games left only to lose their last five, equaling their longest skid of the season, by a margin of 38-7.
“Obviously it’s a disappointment,” Adrian Beltre said. “We knew we had a shot. We played pretty well down the stretch until the last week.”
Keuchel (14-5) struck out eight and walked one. Owning a 9-0 record before going on the disabled list in early May with neck discomfort, he improved to 5-5 since.
“I’ve been feeling a lot better, and better to the point of I’m back in mid-season form,” he said.
The Astros chased Rangers ace Cole Hamels (11-5) before he could record an out in the fourth inning. Hamels allowed four runs in the first inning and two in the fourth, giving up six hits and four walks. It was his shortest outing since allowing seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on Sept. 5, 2016 in a 14-6 loss at Seattle.
The Rangers held a telethon during Tuesday’s local telecast to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey on Texas’ gulf coast. The Astros Foundation — in partnership with Crane Worldwide, FedEx and the Houston mayor’s office — will send 240,000 pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The Astros’ Carlos Beltran, who has already donated $1 million to his home island, teared up while talking about the club’s efforts: “I talked to my brother the other day. He said there’s no water to drink. When you hear that and you know that your family . it means a lot to me.”
Maybin, with a home run and three RBIs Tuesday, has four homers and 12 RBIs in 18 games with Houston. … Delino DeShields’ sixth-inning inside-the-park home run was the Rangers’ second this season, marking the first time since 1997 that the club has had more than one in a season . … Home plate umpire Carlos Torres wore a Rangers catcher’s mask since his crew’s gear didn’t arrive by game time.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve (bruised left forearm) sat out after being hit by a pitch on Monday night. Hinch said Altuve might start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale.
Rangers: 3B Beltre played in the field for the first time since being on the disabled list Sept. 1-11 with a strained hamstring. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning.
Houston’s Verlander (14-8) is 4-0 with a 0.64 ERA in four Houston starts. In his last Arlington appearance with Detroit, he allowed five runs in six innings in a 10-4 loss on Aug. 15. He’ll then have six or seven days’ rest before starting Game 1 or 2 of the ALDS.
Rangers RHP Nick Martinez (3-7) is 0-4 with six no-decisions and a 7.02 ERA since winning at Yankee Stadium on June 25.
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