ALDS GAME 2
Cole dominates on the mound, Gonzalez at the plate to lift Astros over Indians 3-1; Houston leads ALDS 2-0
Gerrit Cole dominated the Indians on Saturday afternoon, buying the Astros offense some time to come through with some run support later in the game to edge out the Indians 3-1 and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALDS.
Cole was absolutely on fire in Saturday's game, going 7 innings during which he struck out an incredible 12 batters, allowed just 1 run on a solo home run, and walked none. Marwin Gonzalez played the hero when he hit the two-run go-ahead double in the sixth, the highlight of his 4-for-4 day at the plate, and Alex Bregman hit his second home run in as many games to extend the lead late.
Gerrit Cole got the nod for Game 2, taking the mound to start the game in the top of the first. He made it a quick inning after getting a couple of fly outs and groundout on just seven pitches. The top of Houston's lineup was up in the bottom of the inning to face Carlos Carrasco, but he too made it a quick inning to keep the scoreboard full of zeros.
Edwin Encarnacion led the second inning off with a groundball single that made it just past a diving Yuli Gurriel into right field. Cole answered that with back-to-back strikeouts, then a groundout to end the half-inning. Gonzalez gave Houston their first hit of the day with a one-out single in the bottom of the inning but would get left stranded to leave it a scoreless game.
After getting two strikeouts to start the top of the third, Cole left a breaking ball in the middle of the zone for Francisco Lindor who hammered it for a solo home run to put the Indians up 1-0. Josh Reddick led the bottom of the inning off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, then to third on an infield single by George Springer. That brought up Jose Altuve with runners on the corners and one out, though the Astros would come out empty-handed after Altuve grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Despite the solo homer the inning before, Cole kept throwing the heat in the fourth inning, striking out the side to bring his total up to seven in the game. Gonzalez got his second hit in as many at-bats in the bottom of the inning, but would once again be left stranded, keeping the game at a 1-0 Indians advantage.
In the fifth, Cole worked around a one-out single in the top of the inning by striking out two more batters. Tyler White gave the Astros another baserunner by leading off the bottom of the inning with a single but would be forced out at second after Reddick grounded into a fielder's choice, followed by a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
Cole continued to deal in the top of the sixth, racking up two more strikeouts in another 1-2-3 inning. Altuve led off the bottom of the inning by bouncing a ball in front of the plate that dribbled down the third base line. He fell going out of the box, but after a bad throw to first was able to make it an infield single, though would come up limping at the end of the play, yet stayed on first to run. Alex Bregman was next and worked a walk, putting runners on first and second with no outs. After a hard-hit fly out by Gurriel for the first out, the Indians made the call to their bullpen to end Carrasco's day and bring in Andrew Miller to face Gonzalez. Gonzalez took the right side of the plate to face Miller and hit a perfectly-placed opposite-field double to score Altuve and Bregman to give Houston its first lead, 2-1. Miller proceeded to walk Carlos Correa, then White, loading the bases and bringing in another reliever, Trevor Bauer. Evan Gattis came in to pinch-hit for Reddick but hit a shallow pop out for the second out, then Martin Maldonado struck out to leave the bases juiced.
In the top of the seventh, Cole started the inning looking to try and keep things going with 89 pitches. He would get a strikeout and two more quick outs to make it a 9-pitch inning to maintain the 2-1 lead and put him in line for a great win. Bauer was back out for the Indians in the bottom of the inning, and after getting the first two outs felt the power of Bregman who took him deep to extend the lead to 3-1.
With Cole's terrific night done, the Astros looked to Ryan Pressly to hold the lead in the top of the eighth. Pressly would issue a one-out walk before getting a strikeout, but with the tying run coming to the plate in Francisco Lindor, A.J. Hinch made the call to bring in Roberto Osuna to try and get the four-out save. Osuna would get Lindor swinging to put them three outs away from the win. Brad Hand was next out of Cleveland's bullpen in the bottom of the eighth but was met by Gonzalez who made it a 4-for-4 day with a leadoff single before being pinch-run for by Myles Straw. Straw would move to second after an intentional walk to Tyler White with one out, but they'd both be stranded after a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
That left the game still at 3-1 for Osuna in the top of the ninth to finish off the save, which he would accomplish with a couple of groundouts before working around a two-out walk with a fly out to wrap up the win and put the Astros one win away from winning the series.
Game 3: The teams get a day off on Sunday to travel to Cleveland for Game 3 on Monday. The game will be another early weekday game with first pitch scheduled for 12:30 PM Central on Monday afternoon and can be seen on TBS. The scheduled starters are Dallas Keuchel for the Astros opposite of Mike Clevinger for the Indians. The Indians will try to extend the series with their first game in front of their home crowd, while the Astros will be looking to make it a clean 3-0 sweep and move on to the ALCS in back-to-back seasons.