And Then There Were Four
Gerrit Cole would like to remind everyone that Justin Verlander isn’t the only Cy Young contender in the Astros rotation. Fresh off of his fifteen-strikeout beatdown of the Rays in Game Two of the ALDS, Cole went in for the kill last night. Amassing another ten strikeouts, he gave up just one run – a home run off the bat of Eric Sogard to start the second inning. (BTW, with this game’s ten K’s, he sets a new MLB record with having ELEVEN straight games with ten or more strikeouts.) The rest of his team had a field day beating up on the Rays, sending them back to Tampa Bay for the winter.
And beat up the Rays they did. George Springer wasted no time smacking a 0-1 single to left, promptly followed by two more singles from Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve. Alex Bregman followed that up with a double, and it was 3-0 before the first out was recorded in the bottom of the first inning. Yordan Alvarez grounded out, but advanced Bregman to third in the process. Yuli Gurriel then singled, scoring Bregman, giving the Astros a 4-0 lead. Poor Tyler Glasnow finally calmed down and managed to strike out the next two batters to get out of the inning, but the damage was already done.
And after the aforementioned Sogard home run in the 2nd, there was very little action. The Rays managed to get a single from Ji-Man Choi off of Cole in the top of the fourth, but that was their only other hit. The Astros’ bats remained pretty quiet as well, until back-to-back home runs from Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve in the bottom of the eighth. Gerrit Cole dominated the Rays for eight innings, and handed the ball over to Roberto Osuna for the ninth, where he went 1-2-3. And that was the end of Tampa Bay’s season.
The Astros will now face the Yankees for two games in Houston starting Saturday, heading to the ALCS for the third straight season. It’s likely that Zack Greinke will be starting that game against Yankees pitcher James Paxton. Neither of these two did particularly well in their starts in the ALDS. Paxton gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings but got lucky that the Twins’ pitching was worse than his, and Greinke only lasted 3 2/3 against the Rays, giving up six runs in that time.
Greinke was pretty solid against the Yankees over the course of the season while he was still with Arizona. In April, he went 7 2/3, giving up just five hits, one walk, and one run, resulting in a D-backs win. In July he posted five innings, striking out seven, walking three, and giving up just two runs. (The loss was ultimately awarded to Yoshihisa Hirano after giving up the game-losing home run to Austin Romine).