It's all or nothing in ALDS Game 5

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: ALDS Game 5 preview

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The favorites to win it all now have one game to either win and continue their quest to a World Series win, or end their journey disappointingly early. After going ahead 2-0 in the series with back-to-back wins at home to start the series, the Astros went to Tropicana Field and dropped two straight to the Rays to even the series and force a winner-take-all Game 5.

The good news for the Astros: they'll be back at home where they have been dominant this year, and unlike in Game 4 where Houston had Justin Verlander on short rest, they have their other ace, Gerrit Cole, on regular rest in the decisive game. Despite Tampa Bay's recent success and credit to them for forcing the series to go this far, the Astros are still heavy favorites to pull out the win to complete the series. Here is a quick preview of Game 5:

Game Facts

When: Thursday, 6:07 p.m Central.

Where: Minute Maid Park - Houston, Texas.

TV: FS1.

Streaming: Fox Sports App.

Pitching matchup: Gerrit Cole vs. Tyler Glasnow.

Series: tied 2-2.

Series schedule

Date & Time (Central)LocationPitching matchup
Game 1Astros 6, Rays 2Minute Maid Park, HoustonVerlander (W) vs. Glasnow (L)
Game 2Astros 3, Rays 1Minute Maid Park, HoustonCole (W) vs. Snell (L)
Game 3Rays 10, Astros 3Tropicana Field, St. PetersburgGreinke (L) vs Morton (W)
Game 4Rays 4, Astros 1Tropicana Field, St. PetersburgJustin Verlander (L) vs. Diego Castillo (ND)
Game 5Thursday 10/10, 6:07 PMMinute Maid Park, HoustonGerrit Cole vs. Tyler Glasnow

Game Storylines

Can Cole do it again?

Gerrit Cole has not earned a loss since May 22 of this year. That's simply incredible. Since that game, he has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball, period. That was true in Game 2, where he set a franchise postseason record with fifteen strikeouts. If anyone can stifle a team's momentum, which has just avoided elimination in two-straight games, it's him.

If Cole manages to get deep into the game, the Astros will be in great shape by having a mostly fresh Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna, along with Will Harris, who has been impressive in his appearances in this series which can provide a lights-out seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. No matter how the pitching lines go into the books, though, it will mean nothing if they cannot get enough run support behind them to get the win.

It all comes down to this

Yes, the Astros are favorites to win this game because they're at home and have Gerrit Cole. Still, anything can happen in a Game 5, and like the Astros and other teams have found out the hard way in this early postseason, it's often the team that gets hot first that catches fire and comes out with the win. To that point, it will be important for George Springer, who broke out of his ALDS slump with a 2-for-4 game in Game 4, to try and get the offense going when they come to the plate in the bottom of the first.

The Astros cannot afford to let the Rays build momentum in this game; if they can get ahead early and get the faithful, rowdy crowd at Minute Maid Park behind them in the first few innings, that could be the difference in the game. It won't be easy against this Tampa Bay pitching staff, though, who is one of the best in the league. Should they work over Tyler Glasnow and force him out earlier than the Rays would like, the matchup against Tampa Bay's relievers is still formidable. While a blowout win would be impressive, the Astros would do just as well to capitalize on any scoring opportunity they find themselves in against this stingy set of pitchers.

When you add all the factors up, other than having lost two in a row, there is simply too much in favor of the Astros for them to lose this game. Still, this is playoff baseball, and things rarely go as expected. Houston will need a combination of talent, execution, and a little bit of luck to put this series to rest and move on to the ALCS against the Yankees.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In what was expected to be a fierce pitcher's duel, Game 1 of the 2019 World Series saw some big offensive moments in the early innings as the Nationals erased an early 2-0 deficit with five unanswered runs to take a 5-2 lead against Gerrit Cole. They would hold on to that lead and take Game 1 against the Astros, 5-4. Washington's star of the night was Juan Soto, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a solo home run to fuel the Nationals to a 1-0 series lead. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Nationals 5, Astros 4.

Series: Nationals lead 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer.

Losing Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Astros take an early lead

Although the Nationals would record the first hit of the night on a leadoff single in the top of the inning, it would be the Astros who would get the first runs of the night in the bottom of the first inning. George Springer worked a leadoff walk to start the frame, followed by Jose Altuve, who drilled a single to put two on base. Both would advance a base after a wild pitch to move Springer to third, followed by a steal by Altuve, then Yuli Gurriel drove them in on a two-RBI double off the left-center field wall to give Houston the quick 2-0 lead.

The Nationals immediately cut the lead in half in the top of the second, getting a solo home run by Ryan Zimmerman off of Gerrit Cole to straightaway center-field to make it a 2-1 game. The Astros threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the third after getting runners on second and third with two outs on a bloop single that fell in by Gurriel, but a strikeout by Carlos Correa would end the inning.

Nationals roar back with five unanswered runs

The Nationals were able to fully erase the 2-0 deficit in the top of the fourth. It came on the second solo home run allowed by Gerrit Cole on the night, this one a leadoff homer to Juan Soto to tie the game. Yordan Alvarez recorded a much-needed hit considering his playoff slump to lead off the bottom of the fourth and should have moved to second after a missed catcher's interference against Josh Reddick instead resulted in Reddick recording the second out of the inning.

George Springer worked a walk next as Houston continued to work Max Scherzer into lengthy at-bats, but both runners would be left stranded as Scherzer got out of another jam. Cole encountered jam of his own in the top of the fifth, issuing his first walk to start the inning followed by a single to put two runners on. After getting an out, Cole would allow an RBI-single as Washington took their first lead at 3-2. With two outs in the inning, Juan Soto would strike again, this time a two-RBI double to extend the Nationals' lead to 5-2 before the inning was over.

Washington goes to their bullpen in the sixth while Cole finishes seven

After a scoreless top of the sixth by Cole, the Nationals moved to another pitcher, bringing in Patrick Corbin to try and hold on to Washington's lead. Corbin was as a potential Game 3 starter, but with the Nationals bullpen having notable struggles, they opted instead to go to his strong arm to try and hold on to get a Game 1 road win, potentially keeping him available for a Game 4 start. He would record a scoreless frame, erasing a one-out single by Yordan Alvarez to keep it a 5-2 deficit for Houston heading to the seventh.

Gerrit Cole would throw one more inning before he was done for the night, getting a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. His final line was not what many expected would it would be, recording his worst start of the postseason: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.

Nationals hold on for Game 1 win

Tanner Rainey was the next reliever for the Nationals, but George Springer welcomed him with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh to trim the lead to 5-3. Rainey would then allow back-to-back one-out walks, prompting the move to another reliever for Washington. It would be Daniel Hudson who would come in and get the second out before an infield single loaded the bases for Yordan Alvarez, who would strikeout to end the threat.

First out of Houston's bullpen was Will Harris in the top of the eighth, and he would erase a one-out single by Soto to keep it a two-run game. Kyle Tucker led off the bottom of the eighth with a pinch-hit single against Hudson, who remained in the game for Washington. Tucker would move to second by tagging on a long flyout, then score on an RBI-double by Springer that was mere feet from being a game-tying home run, but instead left the tying run on second base with one out and the score now 5-4. After a flyout by Altuve, the Nationals moved to Sean Doolittle to face Michael Brantley, and Doolittle would win that battle to keep it a one-run game.

Joe Smith would come in for the top of the ninth to try and keep it a one-run game and give Houston a chance to tie or walk it off in the bottom half of the inning. Smith did his job, keeping the Nationals off the board. Doolittle would face the middle of Houston's order in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Astros in order to finish off Houston's Game 1 loss.

Up Next: Game 2 of the 2019 World Series will start at 7:07 PM Central on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park in Houston. It offers another terrific pitching matchup on paper with Justin Verlander for the Astros going up against Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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