The Astros started 2015 hot. Nobody thought it would last. The Rangers started 2015 slow. Everybody thought it would last.

Both teams have proven their own share of doubters wrong, and it's all coming down to the end of the year. The Astros have nine games left. The Rangers have 10. The Rangers are up by 3.5 games.

If the Rangers go 5-5, the Astros have to go 9-0.

That makes the magic number seven to clinch the division. A Rangers win or an Astros loss lowers that number by one.

The Rangers and Astros can both do a lot to win or lose the division this weekend.

The Angels haven't quit either. They are five games back.

I don't want to talk about 2012. I do want to share a few headlines from the end of that season, though:

Josh Hamilton and those sweet baby blues. Not a headline, just another memory.

This isn't the same team by any means, even though Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton are here. There are also plenty of differences, including a new manager and, on the same note, no smoking in the dugout. No Nolan Ryan, just his hot dogs. No Matt Harrison. Napoli is now a "left fielder" and Hamilton has a bum knee among other ailments.

The Astros in 2012 lost 100 games. They probably did in 2013, too. They lost 90 in 2014. Then, Carlos Correa came. Dallas Keuchel released his full potential (and stopped shaving). Jose Altuve continued his excellence. They got NOLAN RYAN to be affiliated with them. Nolan cursed the Rangers.

It's been a wild ride for both the Rangers and the Astros, and it continues tonight (Sept. 25).

Bob Levey / Getty Images
Bob Levey / Getty Images

Yovani Gallardo (12-11, 3.41 ERA) continues his surprising year against Astros rental Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.73 ERA).

Game two comes on Saturday, Sept. 26 in a noon game in Houston. It features Derek "Wild Thing" Holland (3-3, 4.75 ERA) going against Colin McHugh (17-7, 3.93 ERA).

Game three with the series -- and the division -- on the line puts Martin Perez (3-5, 5.21 ERA) against probable AL Cy Young winner and ironically named Dallas Keuchel (18-8, 2.51 ERA)

I think the Astros come alive and take two of the three games if for no other reason than that would make some exciting September baseball even more exciting and the Rangers have swept the last seven games against them.

Hopefully, Odor says something else to the catcher. Maybe the AL's most tossed manager Jeff Bannister will get tossed again, too. That's always fun.

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