ARLINGTON -- Now that the Astros have locked up the American League West title and home-field advantage in the AL Division Series, they can turn their attention to chasing down the Indians for the best record and top seed in the AL. It won't be easy.• Gear up for Astros'
ARLINGTON -- Now that the Astros have locked up the American League West title and home-field advantage in the AL Division Series, they can turn their attention to chasing down the Indians for the best record and top seed in the AL. It won't be easy.
• Gear up for Astros' postseason run
The Astros clinched home-field advantage in the ALDS by beating the Rangers, 14-3, on Tuesday night, eliminating the two-time defending division champs in the process. Houston will host Game 1 of the ALDS on Oct. 5 and Game 2 on Oct. 6 against an opponent yet to be determined.
"We just don't know who we're going to play," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "This team has earned those first couple of home games and home-field advantage. We'll see how it shakes out, who we play. But some playoff baseball is coming to Minute Maid [Park] pretty soon."
The Astros (97-60) are one game behind the Indians (98-59) for the best record in the AL, though the Indians possess the tiebreaker between the clubs for winning five of six games against Houston in the regular season. Thus, the Astros will have to finish one game ahead of Cleveland.
If the Indians go 3-2 the rest of the way, the Astros would have to win out. The Indians end the season with five home games -- two more against the Twins and three against the White Sox. The Astros have Wednesday's series finale in Arlington before finishing with a four-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"I don't think we can really focus on [the Indians] at all," third baseman Alex Bregman said. "I think we just need to focus on showing up every day, competing like we've done all year long. We're going to have the task at hand and right now we shift our focus to Nick Martinez [on Wednesday] and try and get a win."
Houston has opened a postseason series at home just four times before -- once at Minute Maid Park -- in its history: 1981 National League Division Series (lost to the Dodgers), 1986 NL Championship Series (lost to the Mets), 1998 NLDS (lost to the Padres), 2001 NLDS (lost to the Braves). The Astros went 48-33 at home this year.
"It's going to be a big advantage," said left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who worked six strong innings Tuesday for his 14th win of the season. "Guys who were here in '15 who have played against the Astros in the playoffs, it gets really loud. That's an advantage in and of itself, but we're still trying to lock up home-field advantage, too. That would be really, really nice. We've got a long ways to go for that. That's just an added bonus that we're going after. ... Guys don't feel like, 'Hey, let's just finish out the rest of the week and move on.'"
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.