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Athletics in Houston for big AL West showdown

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The Oakland Athletics took three of four from Minnesota this weekend while the Astros completed a sweep of the Angels. The puts Houston a mere one and a half games ahead of Oakland in the AL West, setting the stage for the final head-to-head series between the two clubs.

These two teams met last weekend in Oakland with the A’s taking two of three. Now the series shifts to Houston, kicking off tonight with Brett Anderson — who has not allowed a run in his past two starts and is on a streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings — taking on Gerrit Cole. On Tuesday it’s Edwin Jackson vs. Charlie Morton. On Wednesday it’s Trevor Cahill vs. Dallas Keuchel.

The Athletics were double digits out of first place as late as July 10 but in the past nine days have tied the Astros in the standings on three occasions before falling just a bit back. A sweep by either team would certainly make a statement. Whether that statement is “we’re not going anyplace, champs” or “know your place, upstarts” remains to be seen, but it’s easily the most important series going on this week.