HOUSTON, TX - JULY 09: Matt Chapman #26 of the Oakland Athletics tags out Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros as he tried to advance on passed ball in the fourth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 9, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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The Oakland A’s Are a Legit Threat to the Houston Astros in the AL West

First place will be on the line when Oakland and Houston play this weekend.

It sounds crazy to say, but when the Houston Astros head to Oakland to take on the Athletics tomorrow for a three-game weekend series, first place will be on the line.

As of this writing, the A’s are one game back of the ‘Stros for first place in the AL West. By the time the teams play, they could be tied with Houston, or at, worst, two games back. In either of those scenarios, if the A’s sweep at home over the weekend, they’ll be in first place by Monday.

So how did we get here?

Simply put, the A’s have been really, really good of late and the Astros have been very, very bad..

Since June 16, the A’s have gone 38-12, their best 50-game stretch since 2005. They’re hot and the Astros, who have dropped nine consecutive home games and five straight games overall (again, as of this writing) are not. Injuries and bad luck have been a factor, but Houston’s starting pitching – one of the team’s strengths – has also been underperforming this month.

That sets up a very interesting series that should see Edwin Jackson take on Charlie Morton, Trevor Cahill face Dallas Keuchel and Sean Manaea battle Justin Verlander on the mound.

History is in Houston’s favor as they lead the season series 9-4 over the A’s, but it’s worth noting Oakland took three of four games against the Astros the last time the teams met.

“The A’s are nipping at their heels,” former Marlins president David Samson told CBS. “(The Astros) didn’t have to worry about that when they lost five in a row earlier this season. What are they going to do now? This is the first test really for (manager A.J.) Hinch in a while. How are they going to rebound? It’s going to be very, very telling.”

Read the full story at CBS Sports