Success against division must come first

Success against division must come first

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have pretty much bolted the Silver Boot down inside their offices at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington because of their domination over the Astros.

In sweeping the Astros this week, capped by Wednesday's 7-3 win, the Rangers finished the season having won 17 of the last 18 games between the teams, including 11 in a row.

The Rangers' 17-2 record against Houston this year marks their most wins over one team in one season. What's more, the Rangers have won 36 of the last 43 games over the Astros, including 14 consecutive series against their Lone Star State rivals.

"You don't want anybody to own you, but to say they've had our number is pretty fair," Astros manager Bo Porter said.

In their first year in the American League West, the Astros went 25-51 against divisional foes, including 10-9 against the Angels, 9-10 against the Mariners and 4-15 against the A's.

"I'm a firm believer that before you can't talk about winning a championship, you have to win your division," Porter said. "For us to win a championship, we're going to have to put a roster together that can consistently beat the Oakland A's, Texas Rangers, Anaheim Angels and Seattle Mariners. You have to win your division first and then you move on from there.

"We have to figure out a way to play better against the Texas Rangers and figure out a way to have our roster match up better against their ballclub."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.