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Gerrit Cole pitches Astros past Rays 6-1 in ALDS Game 5 win

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS on Thursday night, tossing eight outstanding innings in a 6-1 victory. The Astros will advance into the ALCS to face the Yankees.

Cole was staked to a comfortable 4-0 lead after the Astros shelled opposing starter Tyler Glasnow for four runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Astros put their first four hitters on base on three consecutive singles from George Springer, Michael Brantley, and José Altuve followed by an Alex Bregman two-run double. Yuli Gurriel brought home Bregman with a single of his own to make it 4-0.

Eric Sogard answered the Astros’ four-spot by swatting a leadoff solo home run to right field off of Cole in the top of the second inning to make it 4-1, but that would be the extent of the damage the Rays would do offensively. Cole limited the opposition to the lone run on two hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts across eight innings.

The Astros put the game further out of reach in the bottom of the eighth on back-to-back solo homers by Brantley and Altuve off of Emilio Pagán.

Closer Roberto Osuna, who was warming up for a save situation while the Astros hit their back-to-back dingers, took over for Cole in the top of the ninth. Osuna got Austin Meadows to fly out, Pham to foul out down the right field line, and Ji-Man Choi to strike out, finalizing the 6-1 ALDS Game 5 win.

The Astros are back in the ALCS for a third consecutive year. They, of course, won the World Series in 2017 and lost to the eventual world champion Red Sox in the ALCS last year. They will face the Yankees this time, who took them to a thrilling ALCS Game 7 in ’17. The series opens on Saturday night in Houston.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).