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On the Astros: A season on the brink

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A week of terrible baseball has made the weekend series with the Rangers even more important.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It has been an interesting week on The Crawfish Boxes. CRPerry13's wrote a post outlining why the trade deadline was not the end of the Astros season with the Rangers adding Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran. The central idea of Chris' post was pointing out the simple fact that the numbers say overall the Astros had a stronger roster overall even with the Rangers' newest additions.

I stand by Chris' article even if I personally may not have gone as far as he did if I were writing the article.

Needless to say, Rangers fans weren't having any of it and let the site and our social media accounts know it. I can't blame them honestly. The Rangers have led the AL West for much of the season and were a mind-boggling 9-1 against the Astros this season. Even some Astros fans tweeted our account with comments of "Delete your account" or called us fanboys.

But the vigorous arguments ignored the fact that last week the Astros were only 2 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the standings. The Astros started the season with a 7-17 record in April, a worse record in April then the 2015 AL West champion Rangers, had been erased by consistent pitching and an offense doing enough led by Jose Altuve.

But then the Astros went 2-8 over the past 10 games. How did that happen? The Astros have been hit hard by the injury bug limiting Carlos Gomez, Marwin Gonzalez, Luis Valbuena, Luke Gregerson, and Lance McCullers within a week's span. Uber-prospects Alex Bregman and A.J. Reed haven't lit the world. The offense has fallen flat on its face, batting .173 with one home run, nine walks, and 62 strikeouts in the last six games.

A stretch like that makes standing by an argument that the Astros can still win the division even harder. But that would be ignoring the fact that the Rangers haven't pulled out of their tailspin just yet either. Since the start of July, Texas is 12-17. The offense is set for the Rangers -- the injection of Lucroy and Beltran did that. Who exactly will pitch for the Rangers after Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish? And can Darvish stay healthy for the remainder of the season? Jeremy Jeffress will help solidify the Rangers bullpen but it has been far from stable as a whole.

There is nothing I can write that will make the Astros magically start hitting. But they need to find away because if the trend of Astros-Rangers baseball for 2016 continues, Houston will be a just under 10 games behind Texas in the standings after all is said and done.

The Astros can prove they have what it takes to claw their way back into the division race series victory or the pipe-dream of a series sweep.

A series loss or sweep won't end the Astros' season but it will end hopes of winning the division.