The Astros beat the Rays, just as we all knew in our hearts would happen and bowels definitely was not loose heading into Game 5. Houston is 15-4 at home under A.J. Hinch in the postseason, and Jim Crane should give Gerrit Cole whatever he wants. ALCS Game 1 is tomorrow night against the Westchester Yankees, 7:08pm Central on Fox. Great. Houston is the first team since the Verlander-led 2011-2013 Tigers to reach the Championship Series three years in a row.
Some series stats stuff before getting into G5:
-FiveThirtyEight gives the Astros a 54-46 edge in the ALCS, and a 36% chance of winning the World Series. FanGraphs has just about the same projection for the ALCS: 53.6% for the Astros, with the highest-probability scenario of Astros in 6. FanGraphs also has the Astros at 49.7% to win the World Series, highest of the four remaining teams by far.
Really, honestly, now that we've won it, it was good to get hit in the mouth twice.
This was a grinder of a series, obviously, and we get to Game 5, and we get to have it at our home field, and we get to have Gerrit Cole. A lot of that is lined up well for us, and we respond with a really good game. Big moments, big atmosphere today and big-time performances by big-time players.
*The Astros held the Rays to two hits - one of them a solo home run from Eric Sogard. Gerrit Cole was unbelievable, again: 8IP, 2H/1ER, 10K:2BB.
Since 1962 there have been 31 instances of a pitcher throwing at least 7.2IP in a postseason start, allowing no more than four hits, and striking out 10+ batters. Gerrit Cole has done it in back-to-back starts. The last player to do it before Cole was Matt Moore in 2016 NLDS G4. The only other Astros pitcher to do it was Nolan Ryan in 1986 NLCS G5. The only other time a pitcher did it in back-to-back postseason starts (in the same series): Sandy Koufax in the 1965 World Series. 22 pitchers made at least one start with those parameters in the postseason. Notably, Justin Verlander has three such starts, Zack Greinke has one. Now Cole has two.
Cole's 25 strikeouts in the Division Series broke Stephen Strasburg's record of 22. Elias Sports Bureau noted that, when Cole went through the 2nd Inning, it broke a streak of 73 straight innings dating back to August 1 in which he failed to strike out at least one batter, the longest streak in the expansion era. 1999 Pedro is 2nd, with 40 straight innings. That's insane. Bregman:
This team is special, and the reason that we're special is because different guys step up every single night. Yeah, if one guy goes off we're probably going to win. Gerrit went off twice this series.
Jayson Stark: Gerrit Cole's historic run is almost impossible to put into words.
Cole was so good that I didn't even realize the Astros went 19 batters between hits.
*The Astros got four runs on five hits in the first six batters of the game. Bregman:
The Rays pitching staff was unbelievable to face. I think the only time the ball looked that small was opening weekend of the year when we faced them. So they were really, really good. It was a really good test.
*Springer, who is back:
To get Gerrit a lead, to make them play from behind a little bit, it was obviously huge for us. Playing from behind is not easy. We spent basically Games 3 and 4 playing from behind. It's not easy to do, so for us to have a lead was pretty big.
*Brantley and Altuve hit back-to-back home runs in the 8th, and it was Altuve's 11th home run of the postseason, most ever in the playoffs by a second baseman. It was Michael Brantley's first-ever postseason home run.
Postseason home runs, Biggio/Bagwell: 4
Postseason home runs, Springer/Altuve: 22
*Was Tyler Glasnow tipping pitches? Manager Kevin Cash:
I'm aware that there is speculation about pitch tipping. It's something that we have discussed. It's a little tough to do that, make an adjustment in Game 5 of a division series. But at the end of the day, give the guys the credit that went up to the plate and put the ball in play and hit line drives. I think that's what did us in.
I'm not going to say that was the reason why. I left some pitches that were there to hit over the middle of the plate. They are really good hitters. They can do things [with those]. I don't care how hard you throw, they are good hitters. I don't know if that's what it was, but when I look back, it was pretty obvious.
Hunter Atkins addresses the pitch-tipping (noting that it was the height of Glasnow's glove when he came set). Kevin Kiermaier:
I had a great view from center field. The way they were swinging at certain pitches and taking others, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
*Carlos Correa was 0x4 with 3Ks. His line in the ALDS: 3x19, 9K:0BB. .158/.158/.211. Correa, on the ALCS:
It's the matchup that we wanted. It's the matchup that everybody wants to watch. It's must-see TV right there. So everybody is going to be tuning in. It's going to be fun.
*The only thing that is not ideal is that it would likely take a Game 7 for Cole to pitch twice against the Yankees. If the Astros can finish off the Yankees early, then Cole would be set to start the World Series. I can't believe I'm actually typing these Ifs.
*Josh Reddick, with the line of the night:
We're ready for [the Yankees]. We know it's going to be a good series. We know they're a great ballclub, but we're a better ballclub.
*MLB.com: Astros vs. Yankees, position-by-position.
*Looks like it'll be Greinke and Verlander at home, with Cole starting Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.
*FanGraphs' Jay Jaffe: Did MLB pull a switcheroo with the playoff baseballs?
*A Musical Selection: