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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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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