Bilbos reporting from Minute Maid Park.
To the deafening noise of 41,168 screaming fans, I have just witnessed Roberto Osuna strike out Ji-Man Choi to advance the Astros to the AlCS.
But almost immediately after, the crowd acknowledged the real hero of this game, and the reason why the Astros won this series, chanting Gerrit Cole...Gerrit Cole...Gerrit Cole.
Tonight Cole dominated in his second straight playoff game, going eight innings, allowing one run, two hits, striking out 10 Rays.
For the series he logged 15.2 innings, struck out an incredible 25 Rays, while allowing six hits total and three walks. For the math challenged that’s nine base runners in 15 innings. And for the history challenged that is the greatest playoff series performance by an Astros pitcher ever, with the possible exception of Mike Scott in the 1986 NLCS.
Cole’s game score was 82. Combined with his game score of 85 in game 2 and Justin Verlander’s game score of 80 in game 1, it is the first time a team had three game scores over 80 by its pitching staff in a single post-season.
The Astros hitters, possibly inspired by the 10 run first by the Cardinals in last nights NLDS, opened with four runs. George Springer started the inning with a single over the shortstop’s head, and advanced to third on Michael Brantley’s single. Altuve scored Springer on a single to right field, and Altuve and Brantley scored on an Alex Bregman double, amid loud chants of MVP...MVP...MVP.
Yordan Alvarez advanced Bregman to third, who scored the fourth run on a Yuli Gurriel single.
The Rays’ only run came in the second inning on an Eric Sogard home run.
From then on the Rays stifled the Astros’ bats with an almost endless procession of relief pitchers, sending in eight after starter Tyler Glasnow departed in the third inning.
The Astros finally got to the Rays’ bullpen, a seemingly impossible task, in the eighth inning, when Brantley and Altuve had back-to-back homers against Emilio Pagan, making the score 6-1.
Roberto Osuna shut down the Rays in the ninth, securing the win for Gerrit Cole and advancing the Stros to the ALCS.
Altuve’s homer was his 11th playoff home run, setting a record for most post-season homers by a second basemean, eclipsing Chase Utley.
Gerrit Cole’s ERA in the two games he pitched was 0.57
Box score and video HERE.