1st Down: The Houston Astros are AL West champions once again, clinching their spot atop the division on Monday after a 4-0 win in Tampa Bay on the afternoon. Jose Altuve hit a leadoff homer, his 11th of the season, to set the tone, and that would have proved to be enough on the day as the pitching staff grinded their way past the Rays. Yordan Alvarez had an RBI single in the sixth and Alex Bregman drove in two more with a double to add some insurance to the pile. The title means the Astros have won five division titles out of the last six, with the only blemish being the shortened 2020 season.
The Astros are eight games ahead of anyone in the AL, too, so it’s only a matter of time before they clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Meanwhile, the New York Mets are officially headed to the playoffs, wrapping up a spot in the field on Monday night by beating the Brewers 7-2 in Milwaukee. Max Scherzer was phenomenal on the mound in six innings, allowing no hits and no runs as he recorded his 200th career win. At the plate, Pete Alonso slugged a three-run no-doubter over the fence to set the tone early and propel the team from the Big Apple to the ‘W.’ The Mets have now taken five wins in a row and lead the Braves by a single game as the NL East chase continues. The playoff berth is the first for New York since 2016, too, so that is worth celebrating- a little bit- for. But there is work to be done, that much is for sure.