Baseball is one of the most popular sports around Texas and the whole of the USA. For fans in the Lone Star state, though, one of the best sides to keep track of are MLB’s Houston Astros. They are enjoying a fine season in 2021 and currently sit atop AL West. With the regular season finish looming on the horizon, many supporters are hoping that they can stave off their closest AL West rivals to clinch the division title.
The main threat to this ambition are the Oakland Athletics. They too have been in decent form this campaign and are breathing down the Astros’ necks in second place currently. But is it possible for the team from Texas to hang onto top spot as the regular season finishes? To get a quick feel for this, many choose to check sidelines.io website. This site brings together the latest analysis and sports betting odds in order for Astros fans to gauge the likelihood of an AL West title win.
Aside from this, you may also choose to look over how the Astros have performed, what is in store for them and any other factors that could affect their ability to stave off the A’s. But what are the main things to know about?
Bad luck hits the A’s
Luck is a big factor in sports. It might just be that Lady Luck has decided to smile on the Astros this year, when you look at recent events in Oakland. Chris Bassitt’s horror injury, for example, means he will miss the rest of the season for the A’s. While this is not a cause for celebration, it does leave the A’s without one of their best players.
On top of this, Oakland has also lost slugger Ramon Laureano to an 80-game PED suspension. This again leaves the A’s weakened and could give the Astros an edge in holding them off. In addition to how these events negatively impact the A’s playing staff, you also have to think about the harm it could do to their morale. Seeing a player so badly injured and then another suspended could cause confidence in Oakland’s locker room to drop.
What other reasons are there to think the Astros can hold on?
Any fan of baseball in Texas will know the sheer talent in the Astros camp and how well they have done overall in 2021. This leaves them in great shape to pick up the wins needed to maintain their lead over the A’s. Looking at the two schedules for the run-in, you also need to factor in that Houston has an easier ride. With the White Sox and Yankees in store for Oakland, for example, Houston have poorer sides such as the Padres, Rangers, and Diamondbacks to face.
Keeping the squad healthy is also key to fending off the Athletics in AL West. With players such asYuliGurriel and Alex Bregman now back, it is crucial to keep them fit. The last thing that the side from Texas needs to do to clinch AL West gets Carlos Correa back on form. He has tailed off somewhat in recent games and it is critical for him to start firing again.
What dangers do Oakland pose to the Astros in AL West?
When asking whether the side from Houston can stave off the A’s, there are a few threats to be aware of. Firstly, you have to wonder whether the Bassitt injury and Laureano suspension could actually galvanize Oakland, rather than scupper them.
One other risk to the Astros hanging onto AL West’s top spot is how close the battle is. The A’s have a 70-57 record to date, while the Astros are showing 75-52. As all baseball fans in Texas know, this is not a big margin! It will only take a small slip-in form from Houston to let the Athletics go ahead of them.
The last reason for Astros fans to feel a little nervous is that six of the last nine games in 2021 are against Oakland! If these do not go well, they could be the deciding factor in whether the AL West title comes to Houston or not.
Houston Astros can stave off the Oakland A’s in 2021
Although it will not be easy, there is every reason for Astros fans across Texas to feel confident of their side holding on for the AL West title. While the A’s will fight to the end, you have to hope that the Astros remain in top form and use a slightly easier run-in to extend their lead.