Astros end Rays season behind Cole

by Gary Shelton on October 11, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

Sogard's homer accounted for the Rays' only run./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 am.

When a season dies prematurely, all that is left is the autopsy. And so, as we examine the last breath of one of the best teams that the Rays have had, we come up with this.

Gerrit Cole was too tough to ruffle.

Tyler Glasnow was too easy to read.

The Astros were too good at home.

The Rays didn't have the bats to compete in the deciding game.

And so the Astros won the AL Division Series, 6-1. Cole was overwhelming, again. Houston leapt to a fast start. The Rays couldn't hit enough. And the Astros, a formidable bunch, closed out the victory.

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Did the Astros know what Glasnow was throwing?/JEFFREY S. KING

As good as the Rays' pitching has been this series, they didn't start off that way Thursday night. By the time Tyler Glasnow had thrown 17 pitches, he was behind 4-0. There were whispers that he was tipping his pitches -- Glasnow said "it was pretty obvious" -- but four of the first five hitters drove in four runs.

"I think they had a really good approach," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "It happened quick. Just really didn't allow him to settle in. And that's what their offense is capable of doing. We've done such a good job, I felt, leading into Game 5 of kind of controlling the early top of their lineup. You know they're going to get their hits, every once in a while they're going to get the home runs, but they just pieced together a tremendous inning against a really good pitcher."

But were the Astros picking up something in the way Glasnow pitched?

Choi had a single against Cole./JEFFREY S. KING

"They could have been," Cash said. "We are aware at times with some pitchers, but at the end of the day it's 98 and it's a breaking ball. You've still got to do your job with it, and they certainly did."

Still, if the Astros could pick up what pitch was coming, it would make their job easier.

"I'm aware that there is speculation about pitch-tipping," Cash said. "It's something that we have discussed. It's a little tough to do that, make an adjustment in Game 5 of a Division Series. But at the end of the day give the guys the credit that went up to the plate and put the ball in play and hit line drives. I think that's what did us in."

After that first inning, Cole took over. He allowed only two hits -- a second-inning homer by Eric Sogard and a fourth-inning single by Ji-Man Choi. In 15 2/3 innings of the series, he struck out 25 batters and allowed just six hits.

"It is frustrating," Cash said. "Look, getting down, we've been down, we've shown the ability to come back. The frustrating part is Gerrit Cole is on the mound on the other side and the run he's been on is second to none. That presents its own challenges.

"But still had the confidence that we were going to be able to hold it right there. Wasn't quite sure how we were going to get to him. We needed things to go our way and catch a pitch out front that we could do some damage on with guys on base, he just never allowed that to happen."

The Rays' bullpen kept Tampa Bay in the game, shutting down the Astros from the second inning through the seventh. In the eighth, however, Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve both homered to pad the lead.

 I did (believe the Rays could come back)," Cash said. "I think we all did. And up there until the eighth inning, I think we gave everybody a reason to believe that. Our pitchers, it was outstanding the performance they did, to give up the 4, it happened quick, but after that to really navigate through that, kind of make some big pitches. There wasn't a lot of offense going on.

"I give those guys a lot of credit coming out of the bullpen today," Cash said. "Every one of them gave us a chance to stay within striking distance. The issue is their guy on the mound was just that much better that we just couldn't get anything going."

Said Houston's Alex Bregman:  "The Rays pitching staff was unbelievable to face. I mean, I think the only time the ball looked that small was opening weekend of the year when we faced them. So they were really, really good. It was a really good test."

The Rays now can only look toward next season and hope their injuries won't be as catastrophic as this year.

”Disappointing is not the word," said outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. "We would have loved to win that game. But we’ve accomplished way too much as a group to sit here and dwell on this. We would have loved to have won this game. I was so confident. But we didn’t pull it off. There is no such thing as a moral victory."

Eventually, this will be a keeper of a season for the Rays.

"What an impressive run," Cash said." They were a fun team to be around, fun team to watch for six and a half months. I can't deny the fact that we came up short. You get a taste of this, you want to keep going. Today we kind of got out-powered; out-powered on the mound and obviously at the plate."



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller October 11, 2019 at 2:06 pm

What a great run the Rays had this year. But being realistic this is about as good as it gets for the small market, low payroll, fans- don’t- show- up Rays. For every addition made this year there will be another free agent subtraction next year. Guys like Garcia, d’Arnaud and Sogard will be gone to free agency. Pham may be too expensive to keep next year even though he is under team control. No doubt he would like to move on to a more high profile market. Maybe some others too.

Who knows what bullpen guys will be ineffective next year. This year it all came together in September but that won’t happen every year. With the Rays especially it’s always a difficult, uphill struggle.

But this year’s team was special. Let’s hope there is another one just as good somewhere not too far down the road.

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Gary Shelton October 11, 2019 at 5:20 pm

Teams change every year. I’m not sure they can’t live without Garcia or Sogard. But Meadows and Adames remain under team control. I think the window stays open for a while. But I agree with you that it would take a monumental upset to get farther than this round of the playoffs.

The payroll is low enough you can certainly start by keeping Pham, and if the season has a horrible start, you can move him halfway through.

I’ll tell you, Larry, I haven’t liked some of the Rays’ teams. Some of them felt entitled. But I liked this bunch. Their personalities came out, from the tight-assed Pham to the loopy Choi to the boyish Adames.

This run won’t last as long as either of us would like. Rising contracts are a fact of life. But I think it can be enjoyable for another year. Or maybe I’m the loopy one?

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