Astros clinch AL West again
HOUSTON — George Springer, Justin Verlander and the Astros put a check mark in the September box.
And amid the celebration of clinching their third straight AL West title, they already were thinking ahead to what they might achieve in October.
“You can't ever take the first goal for granted,” Verlander said. “I know everybody says we're going to win the World Series, but you can't do that without this first.”
Springer hit a careerhigh three homers, Verlander posted his MLB-leading 20th win and the Astros secured the division crown by routing the Angels 13-5 on Sunday.
A crowd cheering from Verlander's first pitch got even louder as Springer homered three times in the first four innings. The Astros improved to 102-54, a half-game ahead of the Yankees for the best record in the majors.
After the final out, the Astros held a bouncing group hug in the middle of the diamond and posed for a team picture. It hasn't been determined who they will face in the playoffs as they try for their second World Series championship in three years.
Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP, had two chances to tie the big league record for home runs in a game. He popped up with the bases loaded in the fifth and grounded out in the seventh.
Verlander yielded six hits and two runs in five innings to reach 20 wins for the second time in his career and the first since winning the AL MVP and Cy Young Award in 2011 with the Tigers.
George Springer claps after the Astros clinched their third straight division title.