Cole, Astros beat Rays 6-1 in ALDS Game 5; Yan­kees next

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Kris­tine Rieken As­so­ci­ated Press

HOUS­TON — All sea­son long, it seemed in­evitable.

Yan­kees-astros for the Amer­i­can League pen­nant.

“It’s the matchup that we wanted,” Hous­ton short­stop Car­los Cor­rea said. “It’s the matchup that ev­ery­body wants to watch. It’s must-see TV right there. So ev­ery­body is go­ing to be tun­ing in. It’s go­ing to be fun.”

Hous­ton made it hap­pen Thurs­day night as Ger­rit

Cole pitched an­other play­off mas­ter­piece and the Astros jumped to a quick lead, turn­ing back the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 in the de­cid­ing Game 5 of their AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

On deck, the heavy­weight matchup so many fans were an­tic­i­pat­ing: Jose Al­tuve and the 107-win Astros against Aaron Judge and the 103-win Yan­kees. Game 1 is Satur­day night in Hous­ton — the Astros won four of seven meet­ings this sea­son.

“This is two in­cred­i­ble pow­er­house teams,” Hous­ton ace Justin Ver­lan­der said. “We’ll find our­selves in the mid­dle of the ring here in a cou­ple of days and we’ll be go­ing at it.”

Af­ter fel­low aces Zack Greinke and Ver­lan­der were un­able to close out the scrappy Rays on the road, Cole made sure Hous­ton moved on. Given a 4-0 cush­ion in the first in­ning, he dom­i­nated through the eighth, strik­ing out 10 and al­low­ing just two hits.

“I’m just go­ing to treat it like it’s the next game, man,” said Cole, who grew up a Yan­kees fan. “I mean, we know that they’re ob­vi­ously very tal­ented, and it’s go­ing to be a dog­fight.”

Michael Brant­ley and Al­tuve put the fin­ish­ing touches on this vic­tory, hit­ting back-to-back home runs in the eighth. The Astros ad­vanced to their third straight ALCS, and are aim­ing for their sec­ond World Se­ries crown in that span.

Hous­ton beat the Yan­kees in a seven-game ALCS on the way to its first cham­pi­onship in 2017. The Astros also won the 2015 AL wild-card game at Yan­kee Sta­dium.

The Rays beat Oak­land in the AL wild-card game, then won Games 3 and 4 against the Astros to ex­tend their first play­off run since 2013.

But fac­ing Cole, the Rays were in trou­ble — es­pe­cially af­ter Al­tuve, Alex Breg­man and the Astros scored four times in the first against Tyler Glas­now, who said af­ter­ward it was pretty ob­vi­ous he was tip­ping pitches.

“You get a taste of this, you want to keep go­ing,”

Rays man­ager Kevin Cash said. “To­day we kind of got out­pow­ered. Out­pow­ered on the mound and ob­vi­ously at the plate.”

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