Gerrit Cole and Houston get it done at home

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Astros advance to the ALCS with ALDS Game 5 win over Rays

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After taking the first two games at home in Houston, then falling in back-to-back games at Tropicana Field, the Astros returned home for a winner-take-all ALDS Game 5 with a trip to the ALCS to face the Yankees on the line. After a disappointing start from Justin Verlander on short rest in Game 4, the Astros turned the ball to their other ace, Gerrit Cole, to try and seal the series.

Houston would come away victorious with a huge first inning of offense to back up an incredibly dominant start by Gerrit Cole. The 6-1 win would continue their quest to win their second World Series in three years. Here is a recap of the exciting Game 5 from Houston:

Final Score: Astros 6, Rays 1.

Series: Houston wins 3-2.

Winning Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Glasnow.

Houston gets the hot start they needed

After a scoreless top of the first by Cole, the Astros blasted out the gate against Tyler Glasnow by getting four consecutive hits from the top of their order, including an RBI-single by Jose Altuve, which started the scoring followed by a two-RBI double by Alex Bregman. Yuli Gurriel would push the lead to 4-0 later in the inning with an RBI-single.

Gerrit Cole dominates again in the spotlight

Meanwhile, Gerrit Cole was doing his part on the mound as well. The Rays were able to get one run back off of him with a solo home run to lead off the top of the second, but that would be the only blemish on Gole's otherwise efficient early goings in the game.

He would allow just two baserunners through the middle innings, a leadoff single in the fourth, and a leadoff walk in the seventh. Otherwise, he was getting outs and strikeouts to hold the score at 4-1 while Tampa Bay's bullpen was being equally effective against Houston's bats.

Cole would continue late into the game, working around a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh, then getting a 1-2-3 eighth including two strikeouts to bring him to ten on the night, his eleventh-straight start with double-digit strikeouts. He would not be asked to go further, having already provided his team with eight dominant innings of work while reaching a pitch count of 107. His final line in an incredible performance in ALDS Game 5: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10K, 1 HR.

Brantley and Altuve add insurance, Osuna closes it out

After Cole completed his final inning, Houston's offense broke through to score their first runs since the first inning, getting back-to-back solo home runs from Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve to extend the lead to 6-1. Roberto Osuna would enter the game with the five-run lead in the top of the ninth to close things out, and recorded a clean 1-2-3 inning to complete the blowout win at home.

The win in the decisive Game 5 advanced Houston to the ALCS for the third-straight season, and as holders of the best record in baseball, will stay at home to host Games 1 and 2 this weekend.

Up Next: Houston will now advance to the ALCS to face the New York Yankees. Game 1 of the series will be on Saturday in Houston at Minute Maid Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7:08 PM Central. The Astros are expected to start the series with Zack Greinke, considering they had to use Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in Games 4 and 5 of the ALDS. The Yankees have not yet announced their starter.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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