ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Houston Astros clinched their fifth AL West title in six years, getting Jose Altuve’s first home run in a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
Headed to the playoffs for the sixth straight season, Houston won for the eighth time in nine games and improved the AL’s best record to 97-51. A 16-4 (.800) major league record in its last 20 games, the Astros are now guaranteed a first-round playoff bye.
Luis Garcia (13-8) won his fifth straight decision, allowing two hits and four walks in five innings while striking out four. Hunter Brown pitched three innings and Hector Neris completed five hits, the Astros’ 16th shutout this season.
Tampa Bay (82-65) is in position for the second of three AL wild card spots, one game behind Toronto (83-64) and a half game ahead of Seattle (81-65). After the three-game series ends Wednesday, the Rays host the Blue Jays in a four-game series.
Harold Ramirez had three of the Rays’ five hits. Drew Rasmussen (10-6) allowed four runs and six hits in six innings. He’s allowed four runs in consecutive starts and allowed three or fewer runs in 11 consecutive games.
Altuve’ hit his 25th homer on the fifth pitch of the game, his 11th first homer this season and the 32nd of his career. Altuve hit a single topping the sixth, Jeremy Pena walked and Yordan Alvarez hit an RBI single. Alex Bregman followed with a two-run brace with a broken bat.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.