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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.

The Buffalo Blue Jays? The team has reportedly asked about playing there

The Buffalo Blue Jays
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The Buffalo Blue Jays? Is that a thing? Maybe.

The Toronto Blue Jays are, officially, set to begin their season at Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 29. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, however, reports that they are looking at alternatives:

Multiple sources confirm to The Buffalo News that the Bisons’ parent club has finally reached out to Rich Baseball Operations in the last couple of days to examine the possibility of Toronto’s home schedule being played in Buffalo this summer.

This report of a potential for the Buffalo Blue Jays to make their debut comes a couple of days after the strict restrictions on movement for Jays players — they are reportedly required to stick to the Rogers Centre and the connecting hotel or face harsh punishment — met with at least some backlash. The restrictions are inevitable, however, given that Canada is requiring a 14-day quarantine for people traveling into the country. Since the Jays will be playing all road games in the United States, there is little choice for them but to be restricted to their hotel and the ballpark after arriving back in the country after playing games in the states.

As Harrington notes, Buffalo is not an ideal option given the less-than-major-league-level lighting and clubhouse space present in the Triple-A park, so it would not be ideal. Like everyone else these days, however, the Buffalo Blue Jays — er, I’m sorry, the Toronto Blue Jays — have little choice but to scramble.