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With 3 games left, Astros up 1 for WC spot

Club enters Arizona ahead of Angels, Twins, trailing Rangers by 3 in AL West

PHOENIX -- The Astros enter the final three games of the regular season beginning Friday against the D-backs at Chase Field controlling their own destiny in the race for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

With the Rangers beating the Angels, 5-3, on Thursday and the Twins beating the Indians, 4-2, the Astros have a one-game lead for the second Wild Card spot over the Angels and Twins. The Astros trail the first-place Rangers in the AL West by three games, so one Texas win or one Houston loss would wrap up the division for the Rangers.

The Yankees are three games ahead of the Astros for the first Wild Card, so one win by the Yankees or one loss by the Astros wraps up that spot, along with home-field advantage for Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser.

With chance to clinch, Hinch comes 'full circle'

If the Astros and Angels finish in a tie for the second Wild Card spot, they would play a one-game tiebreaker Monday in Houston with the winner advancing to face the Yankees in New York on Tuesday. A tiebreaker between the Astros and Twins would be played Monday in Minneapolis, with the winner going to the Bronx.

Postseason picture

What about a three-way tie among the Astros, Twins and Angels? That's complicated. The Angels had the best record of three against the other two, which means they could play two tiebreaker games at home or one on the road. So if the Angels chose one game, the winner of Astros-Twins would face the Angels the next day.

A tiebreaker would create a logistical challenge for the Astros. It's conceivable in that scenario they could play in Phoenix on Sunday (Game 162), in Minneapolis or Houston on Monday (Wild Card tiebreaker), in New York on Tuesday (Wild Card Game) and then in Kansas City or Toronto on Thursday (Game 1 of AL Division Series).

Fasten your seatbelts.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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