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Porter welcomes chance to face playoff contenders

HOUSTON -- With the Astros set to close the season with 13 games against teams in playoff contention -- beginning Monday against the Reds -- manager Bo Porter said Sunday he wants his team to be as competitive as possible while playing in playoff-type environments.

Opposing managers would have a hard time accusing Porter of not running out his best lineup in the final two weeks, considering the Astros have been mixing and matching at several positions throughout the year.

"We want to send our best lineup out there every day," Porter said. "I think that's actually a good thing for us, and I've said this to our ballclub, that we're playing teams that are in playoff contention. I think it's good for our players to look to the other side of the field, and see the type of intensity that those teams and their fans are going to bring to the ballpark with a playoff berth hanging in the balance."

The Astros play three games against the Reds at Minute Maid Park before a seven-game road trip that features four games against the Indians in Cleveland and three against the Rangers in Arlington. The Astros close the season at home with three games against the Yankees.

One of the things Porter hopes his young team soaks up is how each player on a contending club must be a team player during a playoff push. The Astros got an example of that earlier this month, when Chris Young and Jed Lowrie of the A's both put down bunts, which certainly was out of the norm.

"When you start talking about playoff baseball, a man to a man, every player over there, they check their egos at the door," he said. "They don't care how they get it done, they don't care who drives in the runs, they don't care who moves the guys, they don't care who gets the win, who gets the save.

"The only thing they worry about is winning the baseball game, and that has to be the mindset we develop. I think it's good for our guys to actually witness that type of baseball at the stage where we are as an organization, [it] can only help us moving forward."

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