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How the Diamondbacks’ playoff dream clashes with the Astros’ dynasty

Sep 27, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) reacts to his double against Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte (4) in the fifth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, in front of the home crowd at Chase Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a chance to do something no team has done since 2016.

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Prevent the Houston Astros from reaching the playoffs.

While the Astros’ official dynasty with six consecutive ALCS appearances didn’t kick off until 2017, they haven’t missed a playoff run since their reign began in 2016.

Over the past seven seasons, the Astros have made it to the ALCS six times, the World Series four times, and have won two rings.

And, through the first 4-5 months of the 2023 season, it seemed like this train would continue rolling.

That is, until the past couple of weeks…

In previous seasons, capturing the AL West crown had been a walk in the park for the Astros.

However, this year’s story was different. The Mariners and the Rangers had emerged as actual challenging rivals, transforming the divisional race into a heated competition from the very beginning.

And now, it is not just a divisional crown that they are fighting for; it is a spot in the playoffs.

In nine games against the Royals and A’s this month, two of the worst teams in baseball, the Astros combined for a record of 2-7. Additionally, a 1-2 series against the Orioles was mixed into this miserable stretch.

As a result, fast forward to the season’s final chapter, and the Astros hold a precarious 1.5-game lead over the Mariners for the third and final Wild Card spot, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown in their last three games against the Diamondbacks.

Turning a page

Now, let’s flip the script to the Diamondbacks, whose tale bears striking similarities but lags a decade behind.

Since 2017, the D-backs have not managed to make it back to the postseason; however, what they have done is compile an impressive roster full of youthful talent.

Just like the Astros while the dynasty was being created, the Diamondbacks have compiled multiple seasons with over 100 losses. Year after year, fans knew exactly what to expect, and more times than not, the bleachers at Chase Field were left empty.

But this season, things have been different.

Despite a rollercoaster ride that has comprised of the Diamondbacks fluctuating from National League leaders to below .500, they now stand just a few games away from ending a five-year playoff drought.

With Rookie of the Year candidate Corbin Carroll leading the way, the Diamondbacks are close to completing their coming-out season.

Just like the Astros were back in 2015.

It all comes down to three games.

The stage has been set, and now, game 160 of the 2023 MLB season is ready to commence on Friday.

On one hand, you have a dynasty fighting to keep their playoff streak alive, and on the other, you have an emerging young team who is hoping to break a playoff drought and start a legacy of their own.

Although the Diamondbacks and the Astros currently hold Wild Card spots, neither can afford a series loss as they both have contenders breathing down their necks.

And, to make things even sweeter, both rosters will be displaying their best pitchers on the mound.

To start this series on Friday, it will be the Astros’ rookie sensation J.P. France vs. the Diamondbacks’ ace Zac Gallen.

Then, on Saturday, the Astros plan to roll out 3-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander to take on the Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly.

Only one question remains: can the Diamondbacks finish the job, or will the Houston Astros just be too big of a giant to take down?

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