The Houston Astros entered the postseason as World Series favorites, and it looked like they were on their way to an easy series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays through two games. But after a 2-0 series lead, the Astros lost Games 3 and 4 to the Rays, forcing a win-or-go-home Game 5. Thankfully for Houston, they had Gerrit Cole on the mound, and that’s very bad news for any opposing offense in 2019.

Cole went eight innings, giving up just two hits, two walks, and one run, to go with 10 strikeouts in Houston’s 6-1 series-clinching win.

The fireballer’s fantastic Game 5 performance comes after he threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts in Game 2. This isn’t just a recent thing, either. Cole entered the game with a 17-0 record and 1.69 ERA in his last 23 starts (this is an instance where W-L record *does* tell a fair story on the pitcher).

Cole didn’t need much help, but he got four runs of support from the Astros’ offense vs Tampa Bay right-hander Tyler Glasnow in the first inning. And Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve really put things away with back-to-back homers in the eighth inning.

The Astros advance to what should be a thrilling ALCS against the New York Yankees. FanGraphs gives Houston a whopping 65.4% chance to win the series, while Five Thirty Eight has the Astros as 54% ALCS favorites.

The ALCS begins on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, and the winner of the seven-game series will take on either the St. Louis Cardinals or Washington Nationals in the World Series.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.