Astros beat Rays to clinch AL West division in back-to-back seasons

Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Houston Astros defeated the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday to clinch the American League West division in back-to-back seasons.

Houston has finished first in the AL West in five of the past six campaigns.

The Astros also earned a bye in the wild-card series and home-field advantage in the division series, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.

The victory is Houston's 97th of the campaign. If the regular season ended Monday, the Astros would finish with the top record in the AL.

"Even though we expected to be here, it's never something I take for granted," Justin Verlander said, according to The Associated Press. "I've been a part of a lot of teams that made the playoffs, but I've played with guys who played 10 years and never experienced this. All those things kind of run through your head in these situations."

Dusty Baker, who has led the Astros to the postseason in each of his three seasons as manager, was doused with champagne in the team's clubhouse following the win.

The Astros maintained top spot in the division for the second consecutive season despite losing two-time All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa in free agency and playing a big chunk of the campaign without Michael Brantley.

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Astros beat Rays to clinch AL West division in back-to-back seasons
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