Game 5 of the American League* Divisional Series between the Astros and Rays functionally ended in the first inning. Not because the Astros put 10 runs on the board, a la the Cardinals, but because they put more than a single run on the board, in a game in which they had the insane and unfair Gerrit Cole on the mound. Rays hitters are going to be waking up from Gerrit Cole night terrors for months after the way this series went down.
This was Cole’s second start in the ALDS. In his first, in Game 2, Cole racked up 15 strikeouts in seven-plus innings, allowed five total baserunners, and kept the Rays completely off the board. Thursday night, in Houston’s decisive 6–1 victory, Cole was very nearly as dominant, going eight full innings, collecting another 10 strikeouts, allowing just four baserunners, and holding the Rays to one run. On display was a downright cruel kind of relentlessness—on his 100th pitch of the night, in the top of the eighth inning, Cole blew a 99-mph fastball over the inside corner to fan Joey Wendle. No grunt, no exaggerated follow-through, no signs of atypical exertion whatsoever. Just a breezy delivery and an untouchable heater. It’s not right!
And it wasn’t even Cole’s final 99-mph pitch of the night! The Rays managed one solo dinger off him, one measly single, a couple of scattered walks, and that’s it. Cole’s final numbers from the series are just absurd:
The best thing that could’ve happened for the vile Yankees from this other part of the bracket, other than Cole’s fingers flying off with one of those fastballs, is the Rays stretching this thing to five games and pulling Cole onto the mound to wrap things up. He was more than up to the task, but the task now means the Yankees will get to enjoy a game or two of the ALCS before Cole takes the mound again, with more of this unreasonable brilliance. The man is truly in sicko mode right now.