There are officially four teams remaining in the quest to be called 2019 MLB World Series champions. The final piece of the puzzle was put into place on Thursday night in Houston, as Gerrit Cole put the Astros on his back as part of a 6-1 victory over the Rays in a decisive Game 5 of the ALDS.
While it wasn’t quite on the level of the Cardinals’ historic beatdown of the Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS on Wednesday, the Astros poured it on in the first inning against right-hander Tyler Glasnow. It almost felt like they knew what was coming at times, with Glasnow later acknowledging that he was tipping his pitches. The Astros tallied four straight hits to begin the bottom of the first, including an RBI single from Jose Altuve and a double from Alex Bregman to knock in two more runs. After Glasnow retired Yordan Alvarez with a ground out, Yuli Gurriel singled to drive in the fourth run of the frame.
While Glasnow was able to avoid a complete nightmare inning like we saw from the Braves, it really didn’t matter, as four runs were more than enough for Cole. He allowed just two hits over eight innings of work, with the lone run scoring on a solo homer from Eric Sogard in the second inning. The AL Cy Young Award hopeful walked two batters and notched 10 strikeouts, still hitting 99 mph on the radar gun after reaching 100 pitches in his final frame.
Cole has now struck out at least 10 batters in 11 consecutive starts, including nine regular season starts and two starts during the ALDS. That’s the longest such streak in MLB history. He struck out 25 batters total in his two starts against the Rays, the most all-time in a single division series. He’s on a decent little run right now with free agency awaiting him after the postseason.
Taking the “all hands on deck” approach literally, the Rays used nine pitchers in the winner-take-all game. After the four-run first inning, they were able to hold the Astros off the board until Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve connected for solo homers against Emilio Pagan in the eighth. The homer from Altuve was his 11th all-time in the postseason, passing Chase Utley for the most ever among second basemen.
The Astros will now make their third straight trip to the ALCS, with a matchup against the Yankees set to begin on Saturday night. Two of the sport’s most power-packed and star-studded teams going head-to-head. It should be a doozy of a series.
Quick Hits: The Phillies fired manager Gabe Kapler on Thursday after the club went 161-163 over two seasons on the job. … Anibal Sanchez will start Game 1 of the NLCS for the Nationals while Miles Mikolas will get the ball for the Cardinals. … Despite the Dodgers’ disappointing exit from the NLDS, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that Dave Roberts will remain the club’s manager. … X-rays came back negative on Kurt Suzuki’s left wrist and he’s expected to be ready to go for Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cardinals on Friday. … Michael Wacha (shoulder) will not be added to the Cardinals’ roster for the NLCS. … C.J. Cron will get an outside opinion for a nagging right thumb injury and could require a procedure to alleviate symptoms. … Athletics catcher Sean Murphy underwent surgery for meniscus issues in his left knee on Thursday and is expected to be ready for spring training. ... The White Sox announced Thursday that Frank Menechino will serve as the club’s hitting coach, replacing Todd Stevenson. … Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. will be back as Marlins’ pitching coach in 2020 while third base coach Fredi Gonzalez will not return. … Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets will interview Twins bench coach Derek Shelton for their managerial opening. … Padres prospect right-hander Jacob Nix was arrested on October 6 in Peoria, Arizona on charges of criminal trespassing. … Mariners prospect outfielder Jarred Kelenic has been shut down early from the Arizona Fall League due to back soreness.