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2019 American League Division Series 1

From BR Bullpen

2019 American League Division Series
Houston Astros logo
2019 American League Division Series logo
Tampa Bay Rays logo
Houston Astros
107 - 55 in the AL
3 - 2
Series Summary
Tampa Bay Rays
96 - 66 in the AL


The Teams[edit]




Series results[edit]

Game Score Date Starters Time (ET)
1 Tampa Bay Rays 2 Houston Astros 6 October 4 Tyler Glasnow (0-1) Justin Verlander (1-0) 2:05 pm
2 Tampa Bay Rays 1 Houston Astros 3 October 5 Blake Snell (0-1) Gerrit Cole (1-0) 9:07 pm
3 Houston Astros 3 Tampa Bay Rays 10 October 7 Zack Greinke (0-1) Charlie Morton (1-0) 1:04 pm
4 Houston Astros 1 Tampa Bay Rays 4 October 8 Justin Verlander (1-1) Diego Castillo (0-0) 7:07 pm
5 Tampa Bay Rays 1 Houston Astros 6 October 10 Tyler Glasnow (0-2) Gerrit Cole (2-0) 7:07 pm


Game 1 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Rays 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 5 1
Astros 0 0 0 0 4 0 2 0 x 6 9 0
WP: Justin Verlander (1-0); LP: Tyler Glasnow (0-1)
Home Runs: HOU - Jose Altuve (1)
  • Attendance: 43,360

Game 1 was anticipated to be a pitchers' duel, given the opponents on the mound: Justin Verlander, a top Cy Young Award candidate for Houston, and Tyler Glasnow, who had been terrific at both ends of the season even if he had missed four months in the middle, for Tampa Bay. The game lived up to its billing during the first four innings, as neither team was able to get on the board. Verlander allowed just one baserunner through the first three frames - a walk to leadoff hitter Austin Meadows, but he was immediately erased when Tommy Pham followed by grounding into a double play. The Astros threatened in the 3rd after stranding a couple of runners in the 2nd, when they loaded the bases on a walk to George Springer, an infield single by Michael Brantley who barely beat out 2B Brandon Lowe's throw to first, and another walk to Alex Bregman. But Glasnow was able to strike out Yordan Alvarez on an outside pitch to end the threat.

Lowe finally got the Rays' first hit off Verlander to lead off the 5th, but he couldn't advance beyond first base. In the bottom of the inning, however, Glasnow's fine game thus far came apart. He walked Josh Reddick on four pitches, then after striking out Springer, he gave up a homer to left field by Jose Altuve for a 2-0 Astros lead. He was replaced by two-way player Brendan McKay at that point, but the Astros immediately rattled the rookie, as Brantley singled and Bregman doubled. McKay managed to strike out Alvarez for the second out, then gave way to Chaz Roe. In a key at-bat that nailed the Rays' coffin, Yuli Gurriel hit a pop-up in short right field, but Lowe could not catch it, allowing both runners to score on the error. It was now 4-0, and the way Verlander was pitching. It was almost time to close the books.

Verlander got another double play in the 6th, once again by Pham after a one-out walk to Meadows, and in the 7th he struck out the side as he was more dominant than ever. He finished his turn on the mound with 8 Ks in 7 scoreless innings in which the Rays managed but one hit. In the bottom of the inning, against Navy veteran Oliver Drake, Bregman drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored on a double by Alvarez; Gurriel then followed with an automatic double that made the score 6-0. Ryan Pressly came in to pitch the 8th for Houston, and Tampa finally managed to do some damage with the bat, but it was too little too late: Joey Wendle hit a one-out single and moved to second on a ground out. Pinch-hitter Eric Sogard then singled him in and he in turn came in to score when Meadows doubled. Pham followed with an infield single, but Meadows had to stop at third base. Will Harris then came in to pitch and got Ji-Man Choi to ground out to Bregman at third base to end the rally. Even though it was not a save situation, closer Roberto Osuna came in to pitch the 9th and he nailed down the win with a ground out and a pair of strikeouts. Rays manager Kevin Cash put thing succinctly after the game: "We got Verlander'ed".

Game 2 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Rays 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 1
Astros 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 x 3 10 0
WP: Gerrit Cole (1-0); LP: Blake Snell (0-1); SV: Will Harris (1)
Home Runs: HOU - Alex Bregman (1)
  • Attendance: 43,378

The Astros got another dominant performance from their starting pitcher in Game 2 to take a two games to none lead. Gerrit Cole had been outstanding all season, and was on an unprecedented streak of 9 consecutive games with 10 or more strikeouts. He would put that superlative form on display in this game, leaving Rays starter Blake Snell with nothing to show for a valiant but abbreviated effort. Cole allowed a 1st-inning single to Tommy Pham but also struck out two batters, then struck out the side in the 2nd. Snell allowed a pair of hits in the 2nd, but was able to get out of the jam, then allowed a two-out double to Jose Altuve in the 3rd with no further damage. In the 4th, Cole had another 1-2-3 inning, his third straight, then Alex Bregman broke the ice by taking Snell deep to left-center on a full count to open the bottom of the 4th. That would be the only run scored until the 7th inning. After Snell had struck out Yordan Alvarez for the 1st out of the inning, he was replaced by Diego Castillo who gave his team 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

While Cole was mowing down opponents, Ryan Yarbrough took the mound for Tampa in the 6th and kept the score close with a perfect inning. In the 7th, however, Emilio Pagan took over and Yuli Gurriel immediately reached on a throwing error by SS Willy Adames. Carlos Correa followed with a double and with one out, Martin Maldonado doubled the lead with a single to left. Cole struck out Brandon Lowe and Travis d'Arnaud to start the 8th, bringing his total for the night to 15. He then allowed a double to Kevin Kiermaier and walked Adames, which prompted manager A.J. Hinch to bring in closer Roberto Osuna who quickly struck out Yandy Diaz to end the inning. Houston added an insurance run against Nick Anderson in the bottom of the 8th, on singles by Bregman and Alvarez and a two-out single by Carlos Correa. With a three-run lead, Osuna returned in the top of the 9th to close out the win, but he ran into trouble, as Austin Meadows and Pham started things off with back-to-back singles. Osuna then threw a wild pitch and walked Ji-Man Choi to load the bases but got Avisail Garcia to hit a grounder to third. Bregman forced out pinch-runner Joey Wendle at second base, but a run scored on the play. Osuna then walked Lowe to load the bases again and Hinch had seen enough. He brought in Will Harris to get the final two outs in a situation that had become too tense for comfort. Harris did the job by striking out d'Arnaud and then getting Kiermaier to hit a tapper back to him, and the game was over.

Game 3 @ Tropicana Field[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 7 1
Rays 0 3 1 4 0 1 1 0 x 10 12 1
WP: Charlie Morton (1-0); LP: Zack Greinke (0-1)
Home Runs: HOU - Jose Altuve (2); TB - Kevin Kiermaier (1), Ji-Man Choi (1), Brandon Lowe (1), Willy Adames (1)
  • Attendance: 32,251

Facing their third ace in three games in the person of Zack Greinke, the Rays had their work cut out as the series moved to Tropicana Field, but after a poor start, thy managed to finally get their bats going and extend the series for at least another game. There was a decent crowd on hand to support them, a rare occurrence, and on the mound facing his former team, Charlie Morton continued his strong work already put on display on numerous occasions in the postseason, most recently in winning the Wild Card Game, to earn the win. Still, it looked a bit iffy for him in the 1st inning, as the second batter of the game, Jose Altuve, homered to center field to put Houston ahead, 1-0, and then Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez reached base after two outs, on a walk and a throwing error by 3B Yandy Diaz, but Morton retired Yuli Gurriel on a pop-up to end the inning without further damage and settled down after that.

Greinke for his part was perfect in the 1st inning, needing just 9 pitches to set down the Rays in order, but began taking on water after one out in the 2nd: he allowed a single to Avisail Garcia and after a ground out, hit Travis d'Arnaud with a pitch. The next batter, Kevin Kiermaier, homered to center field and suddenly the Rays were ahead, 3-1. They would then work on increasing that lead over the next two innings. Ji-Man Choi hit a solo homer with two outs in the 3rd, then in the 4th, Brandon Lowe led off with the Rays' third homer in as many innings. After two outs, the Rays applied the killer blow in a rally that started when Willy Adames drew a walk, pushing Astros manager A.J. Hinch to remove Greinke in favor of Hector Rondon; Matt Duffy greeted him with a single, and Wade Miley came in to pitch. Austin Meadows hit a double that scored both runners, Tommy Pham singled to drive in another run, Choi drew a walk, and Garcia finally ended the inning by grounding to shortstop for a force out. By now, though, the Rays were leading 8-1 and had the game under control.

There was no scoring in the 5th, and with a big lead, Rays manager Kevin Cash decided to sit down Morton, saving him for possible further use if there was a Game 5. Chaz Roe came in to pitch and immediately allowed the first three batters he faced to reach, Alex Bregman on a single, Alvarez on a double and Gurriel on a single that resulted in two runs. Another manager could have panicked at this point, but Cash let Roe continue his work, and he retired the next two batters before Brendan McKay came in to get pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz on a fly out to end the inning. For how disastrously the inning had started for the Rays, they had only allowed two runs, and were still ahead comfortably, 8-3. They then immediately got one of those two runs back when Adames led off the bottom of the frame with a solo homer, making it 9-3. The Rays then added another run in the 7th, on a throwing error, a single and a sacrifice fly, bringing the score to 10-3, which would be the final tally. Oliver Drake pitched the 7th and 8th for Tampa and Colin Poche the 9th, and neither allowed much of anything. The Rays were still alive, although they still faced a tall order as Justin Verlander was poised to start Game 4.

Game 4 @ Tropicana Field[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 6 0
Rays 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 4 13 0
WP: Ryan Yarbrough (1-0); LP: Justin Verlander (1-1); SV: Blake Snell (1)
Home Runs: TB - Tommy Pham (1), Willy Adames (2); HOU - Robinson Chirinos (1)
  • Attendance: 32,178

To say the Astros were expected to wrap up the series in Game 4 would be an understatement: they weer starting one of the best pitchers on the planet in Justin Verlander, coming off a brilliant performance in Game 1 and with a history of postseason excellence, while Tampa Bay was forced to resort to a strategy they had pioneered, the bullpen game, not by choice but for lack of a better alternative, with Diego Castillo designated as the opener. Yet, the strategy worked for Tampa, as the Astros were kept off the scoreboard until the 8th inning, while Verlander, pitching on shorter rest than usual, faltered from the gate, allowing 3 runs in the 1st inning and letting the Rays to take a strangle hold on the game that they never relinquished. Castillo was on a short leash, being asked to give it everything for an inning, maybe two at most, while manager Kevin Cash was already warming up a lefthander in case Castillo was in trouble by the time lefthanded-hitting Yordan Alvarez came up in the 5th spot of the batting order. George Springer led off the game with a single to right, but Castillo did not flinch, proceeding to strike out the next three batters, Michael Brantley, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, negating the need to call on a lefty.

The game was basically decided in the bottom of the 1st. Verlander was not his usual self when he came out as after striking out Austin Meadows, he was ambushed by Tommy Pham, who jumped on a hanging change-up and lined a homer to left-center, opening the floodgates. Verlander then walked Ji-Man Choi and gave up a single to Avisail Garcia, then after a second out, Travis d'Arnaud singled to left to score Choi and Joey Wendle doubled in a third run. There was now activity in the Astros' bullpen as well, as the next batter, Kevin Kiermaier, could have sent Verlander to the showers there and then with another hit, but he struck out on a full count. Verlander had bought himself a reprieve, but the Rays were ahead 3-0 and this early lead would prove to be insurmountable. Given the favorable score, Castillo was allowed to continue to pitch in the 2nd, getting two outs around a walk to Yuli Gurriel, before Ryan Yarbrough retired Josh Reddick for the third out. Reddick hit the ball hard, but right at 1B Choi, who made a nice play. Verlander continued to struggle in the 2nd, putting a couple of men on base before striking out Garcia to end the inning, but it was clear he was not going to last very long. In the 3rd, Yarbrough retired the Astros in order and Verlander found more trouble as he allowed a lead-off automatic double to Brandon Lowe and again had to pitch himself out of a jam.

The Astros had their best chance to come back into the game in the 4th when Altuve led off with a single, then after one out Alvarez doubled to the center field fence. However, the Rays made a tremendous defensive play, with CF Kiermaier picking up the ball on one bounce, firing a strike to cut-off man SS Willy Adames who gunned down Altuve at home with a laser throw to C d'Arnaud. It took a perfect play to prevent a run, but the Rays were able to execute. Nick Anderson then replaced Yarbrough and forced Yuli Gurriel to ground back to him for the final out. The Rays then immediately made the Astros pay for their missed opportunity when Adames led off the bottom of the inning with a long homer to make the score 4-0. When Verlander walked Choi for the third time of the game with two outs, his night was over: Josh James came in to pitch, and in the 5th, rookie Jose Urquidy took over, as sign that manager A.J. Hinch was already looking to Game 5. Choi made another fine play in the 6th inning, when with Springer on first, he snagged another hard-hit line drive, this one by Brantley, and turned an unassisted double play, much to the crowd's delight. The Rays put a total of five men on base against Urquidy in the 5th and 6th but were unable to score, but it did not really matter given that Houston was not closing the gap. Colin Poche pitched a perfect 7th inning but in the 8th gave up a two-out solo homer to Robinson Chirinos. It did not change much, however. In the 9th, three runs down, Houston tried to mount a rally against Emilio Pagan, as with one out Altuve walked and Bregman singled. Cash then called one of his ace starters, Blake Snell, to come in to close the game, and in an unfamiliar role, Snell struck out Alvarez and got Gurriel to ground out to end the game. The Rays had done the unthinkable and managed to extend the series to a decisive Game 5.

Game 5 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Rays 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0
Astros 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 x 6 8 0
WP: Gerrit Cole (2-0); LP: Tyler Glasnow (0-2)
Home Runs: TB - Eric Sogard (1); HOU - Michael Brantley (1), Jose Altuve (3)
  • Attendance: 43,418

The Rays were once again distinct underdogs going into Game 5, having to face a red hot Gerrit Cole, unbeaten in his last 23 starts, but then again, they had been in the exact same position in the previous two games and had managed to pull off unexpected wins to force this decisive game. However, this time, it wasn't to be: the Astros were not in a laughing mood, as Cole spun off another awesome performance, and they got to young Tyler Glasnow for four quick runs in the 1st inning, forcing the Rays into a futile game of catch-up the rest of the way. Logic was respected in the end, but the Rays had impressed everyone with their tenacity and the depth and strength of their pitching.

The game was basically decided in the 1st inning. Before Cole had his rhythm fully going, the Rays tried to force him to make extra pitches, but it did not really work, as both Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham struck out. However, the next batter, Ji-Man Choi, was successful in managing to work a walk but Travis d'Arnaud, exceptionally inserted in the clean-up spot, lined out to center to end the inning. Then Glasnow came out, and he was immediately lit up: George Springer singled and moved to third on a single by Michael Brantley, then Jose Altuve singled as well, scoring a first run and moving Brantley to third. Finally coming up with runners on base - he had but one RBI up to that point in the series - Alex Bregman hit a double to right and scored both runners. The entire sequence had taken just 10 pitches, so there had been no time to warm up a lefthander to face Yordan Alvarez (the fact that Rays manager Kevin Cash had first asked starter Blake Snell to warm up in the bullpen, then changed his mind and called on Colin Poche, had not helped either), so Glasnow had to face the prodigious young slugger. He grounded out to shortstop, but it required a great play by Willy Adames and a full-out stretch by Choi at first base for the throw to beat him to the bag, and meanwhile Bregman had made it to third. With everyone in the ballpark aware of what had transpired the night before in Atlanta, when the St. Louis Cardinals had k-o'ed the Braves with 10 runs in the 1st inning, Yuli Gurriel followed with a single to right, and Bregman scored to make it 4-0, while there was still only just one out. But Glasnow reached back to strike out Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick back-to-back, and while the inning had been really bad for the Rays, it was not a complete disaster. One reason things had gone so badly was that Glasnow was apparently tipping his pitches, which explains why the Astros were so aggressive and successful early in the inning.

The Rays managed to get a bit of hope back when the first batter in the top of the 2nd, Eric Sogard, starting at second base in place of a struggling Brandon Lowe, belied his appearance as the 90-pound weakling who gets sand kicked in his face in old-time adds for body-building implements, by driving Cole's first pitch over the right field fence with a homer. By reducing the deficit to a manageable 4-1, he gave his teammates a sign that maybe, they could get back into this game - if only their pitching could stop the Astros' bats from now on. And that they did, as on a day when every pitcher on the roster was available to take at least a short turn on the mound, a parade of relievers snuffed out the Astros until the 8th inning. However, the second half of that scenario was that the Rays should somehow manage to gnaw some runs back against Cole, but after Sogard's ambush, that proved impossible. Cole allowed just one other hit while pitching 8 innings, struck out 10 batters, and only walked one more after Choi's 1st-inning free pass. In the 8th, he was still dealing with his fastball hitting 99 mph on the radar gun. So the yeoman's work that eight different pitchers, starting with Glasnow, accomplished from the 2nd to the 7th inning to keep the Astros from adding any runs to their tally, was ultimately in vain. In the 8th, after it was clear that Cole's night was over, the Rays finally broke, as Emilio Pagan allowed back-to-back homers to Brantley and Altuve to open the bottom of the inning. At 6-1 down, there was no coming back, even in the Rays' wildest dreams: Roberto Osuna retired them in order in the 9th, and the Astros were on their way to face the New York Yankees in the Championship Series.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Scott Boeck: "MLB playoffs: Rays face uphill battle versus Astros in ALDS", USA Today, October 4, 2019. [1]
  • Sarah Langs and Andrew Simon: "Cole hard facts: 10 stats from otherworldly ALDS", mlb.com, October 11, 2019. [2]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros oust Rays, set up ALCS date with Yanks: In decisive G5, club rides stellar Cole, bats to 3rd straight appearance", mlb.com, October 11, 2019. [3]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Houston advances to ALCS to give what America wants: an Astros-Yankees matchup", USA Today, October 10, 2019. [4]

Related Sites[edit]

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NL Wild Card Game Nationals over Brewers (1-0)

NL Division Series Nationals (WC) over Dodgers (NLW) (3-2)

NL Division Series Cardinals (NLC) over Braves (NLE) (3-2)

NL Championship Series Nationals (WC) over Cardinals (NLC) (4-0)

World Series Nationals (NL) over Astros (AL) (4-3)

AL Championship Series Astros (ALW) over Yankees (ALE) (4-2)

AL Division Series Astros (ALW) over Rays (WC) (3-2)

AL Division Series Yankees (ALE) over Twins (ALC) (3-0)

AL Wild Card Game Rays over Athletics (1-0)

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