By Brett Dolan

The Astros fast start contrasted with a painful beginning to the Rangers season gave many Houston fans hope that the balance of power in the A.L. West might have shifted somewhat dramatically early in 2017. However the elephant in the room remained the concern that the 19 head-to-head match-ups between the teams might, again, swing the division in the favor of Texas.

Even if you don’t remember the exact record of the 2016 Silver Boot Series, you probably wouldn’t bat any eye at the final tally, with the Rangers going 15-4 on their way to the divisional title.

In the first three games of the 2017 season series the Astros have batted balls all around Minute Maid Park against the Rangers beleaguered pitching staff. After winning Wednesday’s night game 10-1, they are one win away from equaling last year’s total.

The Astros also improved to 15-4 vs the A.L. West, the best record by any team against their own division.

Manager A.J. Hinch said that his club didn’t need to beat the Rangers to validate their early season success.

“We didn’t really need an uptick in confidence,” he said. “We felt like we had a good team. Obviously a division opponent, you want to play well. But I didn’t think we needed a boost. That group in there has got a little bit of swagger about them. We play the game the right way. These series wins are really what increases a confidence level.”

The Astros trailed on Monday before the benches cleared in the sixth inning and the Houston bats exploded in the seventh. Tuesday featured the latest installment of an Astros comeback from a 5-0 deficit, eventually posting an 8-7 win.

Wednesday, the Astros changed the script by jumping out to an early 4-0 lead after batting around in the second. Carlos Correa started the frame with a solo homer, his third of the season. Two batters later Brian McCann connected for his fourth home run. Alex Bregman and George Springer would also add run scoring hits.

Marwin Gonzalez connected for his team best eighth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, to increase the Astros lead to 6-1. Josh Reddick later added the team’s fourth homer of the game, while Correa finished with four hits.

“I just think the performance we put on these three games speaks by itself,” added Correa. “We have been playing really good baseball and we have a great team.”

Charlie Morton allowed just one run in six innings of work, while striking out eight Rangers to earn the win and improve to 3-2.

The Astros will go for the four-game series sweep Thursday afternoon in a 1:10 p.m. start with Joe Musgrove (1-2 4.88) against the Rangers A.J. Griffin (2-0 4.11).



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