Tanaka-Greinke in ALCS opener; Astros line up aces vs Yanks

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Though the Astros took an early 1-0 lead on a Jose Altuve home run, the Rays pounded Houston starter Zack Greinke for six runs in 3.2 innings.

The victory sent baseball's winningest team into orbit and off to the ALCS for a third consecutive season.

Instead of the Rays heading to NY for the ALCS, the Yankees will be in Houston for Game 1 on Saturday night.

"When you have Gerrit Cole on the mound, we win", Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "The moment is never too big". With a great chance to win the AL MVP, Bregman finished the regular season with 41 home runs, 112 RBIs and a 1.015 OPS.

"Cole was really, really tough tonight", Adames said. Now, Altuve has 11; and reached it in just 37 games.

Commentators Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and Frank Thomas all agreed that after watching the tape, Houston knew what pitch was coming more than 90-percent of the time.

With momentum on his side, Cole just kept on dealing. Two batters later, Yuli Gurriel capped the rally with an RBI single.

Left-hander Blake Snell will get the start in Game 2 on Saturday, marking his postseason debut.

Astros ace Justin Verlander was less-than-stellar on three days rest and gave away an early lead to the Rays.

Though going the distance in the best-of-five perhaps took a little more work than expected of the Astros, the pending clash with the Yankees is thick with promise. Now it wasn't almost as big as what St. Louis did, but after the Astros were shut down at Tropicana Field, it was just as huge for them.

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To solidify their reasoning, the former All-Star trio pointed out how the Astros players took more time after getting on base or scoring a run to tell the next hitter what they thought to possibly look for. As a result, they batted.077 against Cole. When he's as dominant as he's been ... it's just an exciting time for our team.

"This is a bitter ending, in a sense, because no one wanted to stop this thing we had going", centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said.

Trevor Plouffe, who re-signed with the Phillies on a minor league contract for the 2019 season, responded to Frandsen, "I had his pitches this Spring Training".

Tyler Glasnow was rocked by the Houston Astros from the start of the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday night.

The Rays spent much of the last two weeks celebrating.

A combination of six Rays pitchers effectively shut down the Astros in a 4-1 win to even the series. In his first ALDS start, he blanked the Rays, going seven innings, allowing one hit on eight strikeouts.

Cash was managing his butt off to hold the Astros batters at bay. His name is Gerrit Cole, and on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park he did what the rest of his teammates had failed to do over the previous 18 innings of this series: finish off the Tampa Bay Rays.

Except for the homer by Sogard, who hadn't started since September 14 because of lingering right foot discomfort, the Rays couldn't muster much against the major league strikeout leader who next month could become the third Cy Young Award victor on Houston's 2019 staff.

To give an idea of complete a team Houston is, consider that the Astros also led the Major League Baseball in every offensive category, with the exception of home runs and RBI and recorded the most walks.

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