Astros vs. Rays: Five things to know about Houston's series-clinching win in ALDS Game 5

On Thursday, the Houston Astros defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 in Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series. The win means the Astros advance to the AL Championship Series, their third consecutive, to square off against the New York Yankees for the right to represent the AL in the World Series. Meanwhile, the Rays are headed home for the winter.

Below, you'll find five things you need to know about Game 5.

1. Cole shoved (again)

Gerrit Cole is going to be a very rich man very soon thanks to outings like Thursday's.

While Cole didn't fan 15 batters as he did in Game 2, he did toss eight innings while permitting two hits and one run. He walked two and fanned 10. His 25 striketous are the most ever by an Astros pitcher in a single series.

Cole threw 107 pitches on the evening, averaging 97.2 mph on his fastball while generating 19 swinging strikes. Of those 19, 10 came on his fastball and another six on his slider. None of his pitches registered an average exit velocity over 90 mph.

Oh, and there's this stat:

Cole was dominant, save for an Eric Sogard home run. He's the biggest reason why the Astros are advancing to the ALCS, and the only downside for Houston is that he won't be available to start Game 1.

2. Astros jumped out early

The Astros got off to a quick start, recording four consecutive hits to begin the game and taking a 4-0 lead before the first inning ended. 

George Springer singled; Michael Brantley singled; Jose Altuve singled; Alex Bregman doubled; and Yuli Gurriel later singled in the other run. 

The Astros would tack on a home runs from Brantley and Altuve later on, but all they needed to ensure victory was those first-inning runs. Credit them for making the most of their early opportunities.

3. Was Glasnow tipping?

We covered this topic in more depth elsewhere, but during the game a few former big-league hitters alleged that Glasnow was tipping his pitches -- perhaps with excess hand movement before beginning his delivery.

It is worth noting that the Astros appear particularly skilled and/or adept at picking up tips. This same group figured out a tell in Yu Darvish's delivery back during the 2017 World Series.

4. Rest of Rays' staff kept them in game

After that first inning, the Rays held the Astros without a hit until Josh Reddick recorded a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Who was responsible for that good stretch of pitching? Basically Tampa Bay's entire staff.

The Rays used Blake Snell, Chaz Roe, Ryan Yarbrough, Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Colin Poche, Emilio Pagan and Brendan McKay after pulling Glasnow. That, for those counting at home, is nine total pitchers. But again, it worked -- the final seven combined to permit three hits and two runs over five-plus frames. All things considered, the Rays had to be content with that performance.

5. Monster ALCS showdown awaits

As mentioned in the introduction, the Astros will now host the Yankees to begin the ALCS, with things getting underway come Saturday night. The Astros were 4-3 against the Yankees during the regular season, outscoring them by a two-run margin, suggesting we're in for a good one. Whomever prevails will play in the 2019 World Series against the winner of the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals' NL Championship Series matchup.

The Rays will now head into the offseason, hoping to improve their roster enough to keep up with the Astros and Yankees and others heading into the 2020 season. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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