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.

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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