The Astros are now one win away from winning the series

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Houston takes 3-2 series lead with Game 5 win behind Cole

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After falling behind 2-0 in this series by dropping two disappointing games at home to start the World Series, the Astros have responded by taking all three games in D.C. to take a 3-2 lead after a 7-1 win in Game 5. Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa, and George Springer each had big two-run home runs, but it was Gerrit Cole who put an exclamation point on an outstanding season with a seven-inning, one-run gem. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 7, Nationals 1.

Series: Astros lead 3-2.

Winning Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Losing Pitcher: Joe Ross.

Houston jumps out in front for third straight game

For the third straight game, it was Houston scoring first to take the wind out of Nationals Park. With Max Scherzer a late scratch, it was Joe Ross who would fill in on the mound for Washington and get tagged by a couple of big hits early in Game 5. The first came in the top of the second, where a one-out infield single by Yuli Gurriel would bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who was given the assignment to play left field so that Houston could have his big bat in the lineup for a closely-contested game. That decision paid off, as Alvarez would get his first postseason home run, a two-run shot to straightaway center to put the Astros up 2-0.

Alvarez would be a factor in another scoring play in the top of the fourth, keeping the inning alive with a two-out single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch in an at-bat against Carlos Correa, but that would end up being inconsequential as Correa would drill a ball over the left-field wall to double Houston's lead at 4-0.

A fitting end to Cole's season

Assuming Cole isn't asked to work on very short rest in a potential Game 7, his last appearance of the 2019 season mirrored that of many he had in what will go down as one of the most dominant years of pitching in Astros franchise history. He allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the second, a walk in the fourth but did not allow a run until one out into the bottom of the seventh.

That came by way of a solo home run by Juan Soto, cutting Houston's lead to 4-1. Cole went on to complete that inning despite allowing another walk, finishing with his ninth strikeout to give him a seven-inning, one-run start to add to his spectacular resume as he enters free agency at the end of this series. His final line and possibly final start in an Astros uniform: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 1 HR.

Houston adds insurance and are now one win away

George Springer led off the top of the eighth with a double into the gap in right-center field, then moved to third on a groundout by Jose Altuve. The Nationals then intentionally walked Michael Brantley to face Alex Bregman, who would pop out to shallow right to keep Springer at third. He was followed by Yuli Gurriel, who came through to score Springer on an RBI-Single to make it a four-run game again at 5-1.

With two innings to cover and a four-run lead, Houston brought in Joe Smith as the first arm out of the bullpen for the bottom of the eighth. Smith would hold the lead, working around a leadoff single to throw a scoreless frame and send the game on to the ninth. In the top of the ninth, George Springer tacked on two more insurance runs with a two-run home run of his own, making it a 7-1 lead.

The Astros would give the bottom of the ninth to Ryan Pressly, who would wrap up the six-run win. The victory has Houston just one more win away from the Commissioner's Trophy. After falling behind 2-0, taking three games on the road in D.C. is monumental for this team that will come back to Houston for Game 6 and a Game 7, if necessary.

Up Next: The Astros and Nationals will have a travel day on Monday before resuming this series in Houston. Game 6 will be another 7:07 PM Central start from Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. While not yet fully confirmed, the expected pitching matchup is a rematch of Game 2 with Stephen Strasburg on the mound for Washington and Justin Verlander for Houston.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome