It’s over, the game and the Rays season.
Update, bottom of the eighth:
Michael Brantley finally broke the Rays bullpen’s spell.
Brantley drove Emilio Pagan’s 95-mph fastball out to right for his first career postseason home run, and Jose Altuve followed with a homer to left as the Astros broke the game open for a 6-1 lead.
Update, middle of the eighth inning:
Well, here’s some encouraging news for the Rays.
Cole went down and in to lefthanders Joey Wendle and Kevin Kiermaier for strikeouts in the eighth and retired Willy Adames on a sharp grounder back through the middle.
Update, end of the seventh inning:
Few will remember it this way, but Rays relievers, seven of them, matched the mastery of Gerrit Cole pitch for pitch in Game 5. Actually, through seven innings the Rays (counting Tyler Glasnow) needed only four more pitches (99 to 95) than Cole.
Update, middle of the sixth inning
The Rays retired 13 straight Astros before Ryan Yarbrough’s two-out walk in the fifth brought on the fifth Tampa Bay pitcher of the game. Nick Anderson got Jose Altuve on a towering pop up to right field.
None of that matters if the Rays can’t get Astros starter Gerrit Cole out of cruise control, as Fox analyst A.J. Pierzynski called it. Cole set the Rays down in order in the sixth, fanning Ji-Man Choi for his eighth strikeout. He’s not as dominating as in Game 2. He may never again be that dominating.
Update, middle of the fifth inning.
Throw out those first four Astros batters and it’s a 1-1 game, both teams with two hits.
Blake Snell continued to steady the Rays, retiring Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick in order, Reddick on a strikeout. The Astros haven’t had a baserunner since Gurriel’s RBI single with one out in the first inning.
Unfortunately for the Rays, they can’t do much with Gerrit Cole. Particularly troublesome: Travis d’Arnaud’s series struggles continue. He’s 2 for 15 thus far. Other than Eric Sogard’s home run on the first pitch of the second inning, Ji-Man Choi has the only Rays hit — an opposite-field single in the fourth inning against an extreme Astros shift.
A 10-pitch fifth inning for Cole doesn’t help the Tampa Bay cause.
Update, end third inning:
Was Tyler Glasnow tipping his pitches?
He gave up hard hits to the first four batters. Alex Bregman was whispering advice to Carlos Correa after Bregman came around to score the fourth Astros run, and former Rays infielder Trevor Plouffe was tweeting that Glasnow as tipping his pitches. (See below).
Whatever Glasnow was doing, he stopped.
The Rays right-hander allowed only one hit to the final eight batters he faced, striking out three without a walk, before leaving behind a 4-1 deficit. Blake Snell came on to retire Yordan Alvarez on a fly to left field for the final out of the third.
Update, middle third inning:
If you think you’re having a tough night, at least you aren’t the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Two pitchers they drafted and traded away are starting Game 5. But before Gerrit Cole or Tyler Glasnow could take the mound, the Pirates contributed the tweet of the night.
Meanwhile, a former Astros ace tweeted his pregame prediction:
Sogard to the rescue?
Update, top second inning:
The Astros didn’t have much time to enjoy their big first inning.
Eric Sogard, getting his first start of the series, hit the first pitch of the bottom of the second inning into the right-field stands to give the Rays life.
A nightmare first inning for the Rays and Glasnow
Tyler Glasnow pitched in the middle of the plate to the Astros’ first four hitters, and they all made him pay.
Alex Bregman ripped a two-run double to the gap in right-center for Houston’s fourth hit on Glasnow’s first 10 pitches. Bregman’s gapper followed three straight singles by George Springer, Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve.
Yuli Gurriel’s one-out shot past Joey Wendle at third brought home Bregman to make it 4-0 before Glasnow fanned Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick to escape the inning.
A former Rays player tweets that Glasnow is tipping his pitches.
At least Ji-Man Choi made Gerrit Cole work a bit in the bottom of the first inning
Choi walked for the sixth time in the American League Division Series in the top of the first inning Thursday. But the first inning of Game 5 resembled the first inning of Game 2 against Cole. The Rays sent four batters to the plate, put one runner on and struck out twice.
All of four analysts for FS1 picked the Astros, for what it’s worth.
Some last-minute tweets worth checking out: