MLB Standings Watch: Red Sox starting to shut down

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Sep 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (26) pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

(American League team that is struggling)

Houston Astros: Dropping the first two games of their series in Texas has cost the Astros their division lead, as the Rangers have moved a half game ahead of them in the standings. They will play two more in Texas this week, followed by a rematch in Houston later this month, which gives them plenty of opportunities to control their own fate.

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Houston is trending in the wrong direction, losing 7 of their last 10 games. They have lost 4 of their last 5 series, including meetings with the disappointing Seattle Mariners and lowly Oakland A’s. As the Rangers surge past them, the Astros also need to be wary of the Wild Card teams sneaking up on them.

The Astros pitching staff leads the league with a 3.41 ERA, but they have dropped to 8th in September. Scott Kazmir has been one of the league’s best pitchers and was nearly untouchable at the time he was traded to Houston in July, but he’s been scuffling the last few weeks. Over his last 6 starts Kazmir is 1-3 with a 4.54 ERA. Moving from one of the league’s worst teams to one of the best was supposed to put him in a better position to win, but that hasn’t been the case so far. He was 5-5 with Oakland to start the season, but owns a 2-4 record with his new team.

Houston was the Cinderella team of the first half, as their young core began to thrive and carry them to contender status. The problem with relying on so many young players is that they may be more prone to fade late in the season, which is what is happening to this team down the stretch.

Next: Playoff Outlook