The Houston Astros have advanced to the ALCS for the third consecutive season after a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays had forced game five on Tuesday after levelling the series at 2-2, but had no answer to Gerrit Cole's dominant display in the decider.
Cole tossed eight innings of one-run baseball allowing two hits, one walk and striking out 10 for Houston to guide his team to a comfortable win.
The Astros got to Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow early in the first, scoring three runs before Tampa even recorded one out. Houston plated four in the first frame when it was all said and done and never looked back.
Houston moves on to the American League Championship Series for the third straight season where they will host the New York Yankees in game one, as they aim for a second World Series appearance in three years.
Cole has arguably been the best pitcher in MLB all season and is definitely the best in the post-season right now. Over his two starts in the ALDS, Cole pitched 15 2/3 innings allowing one run on six hits all while striking out 25 Rays hitters. His 2019 postseason ERA now clocks in at 0.57.
The UCLA product also struck out 10+ batters for the 11th straight start, per MLB.com.
Cole's 25 strikeouts are also the most by an Astros pitcher in a single postseason series.
The 2019 Astros aren't just one of best hitting teams in MLB this season, they're one of the best hitting teams ever and while Tampa's pitching was dominant all year, Houston's hitters finally wore it down.
After dropping the first two games of the series, the Rays' pitching staff buckled down and allowed just four runs over games three and four. Heading into Thursday's decider, manager Kevin Cash said everybody was available in Tampa's bullpen, including former Cy Young winner Blake Snell.
However, it didn't matter much as the Astros struck early, plating four runs in the first off Glasnow. Houston's hitters even got to Tampa's lights-out bullpen as Emilio Pagan allowed back-to-back home runs to lead off the eighth inning, which all but sealed the game.
If it already wasn't evident, Altuve is really, really good.
Houston's second baseman went 2 for 4 at the plate including an RBI single in the first to get the Astros on the board, and a home run in the eighth to help seal the deal.
The 29-year-old's 11 career postseason homers are the most by a second baseman all time and are tied with teammate George Springer for the most in Astros' history, per MLB.com.
Altuve's stellar performance at the plate Thursday not only added to an illustrious postseason career for the Venezuelan native, but helped the Astros' post-season dominance continue.
|Coronavirus: MLB to open with Yankees v Nationals and Giants v Dodgers on July 23|
|Coronavirus: MLB explains testing delays after complaints|
|Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo tests positive for coronavirus|
|Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo slams MLB for delayed test results|
|Coronavirus: Nationals reliever Doolittle blasts US over COVID-19 response|
|Cleveland Indians manager favours changing nickname|
|Coronavirus: Braves pitcher Hernandez opts out of 2020 MLB season|
|Coronavirus: Yankees pair LeMahieu and Cessa test positive for COVID-19|
|Coronavirus: Dodgers´ Price opts out of MLB season due to COVID-19 concerns|
|Coronavirus: Giants´ Posey considering opting out of 2020 season|
|Coronavirus: Freddie Freeman among four Braves with COVID-19|
|Cleveland Indians to discuss changing name amid pressure|
|Angels star Trout still unsure if he´ll play in 2020|
|Coronavirus: Blue Jays granted waiver to train in Canada|
|Cubs pitcher Quintana has thumb surgery for laceration|
|Yankees GM ´very optimistic´ Judge will be ready for opening day|
|Rockies OF Desmond opts out of MLB season|
|Nationals duo Zimmerman and Ross join Arizona´s Leake in opting out of MLB season|
|MLB season will be sprint instead of marathon|
|MLBPA agrees to report to camps on July 1, season to start on July 23 or 24|
|Coronavirus: MLB to impose season schedule after union rejects last offer|
|Coronavirus: MLBPA board reportedly rejects 60-game season proposal|
|Coronavirus: Yankees, Mets will both train in New York if MLB season starts|
|MLB tells players it will not agree to more than 60-game season|
|Coronavirus: Astros player tests positive for COVID-19|
|Coronavirus: Five Phillies players test positive|
|Danger of expanded MLB playoffs is rewarding mediocrity|
|Coronavirus: Players counter MLB´s offer with 70-game proposal|
|Coronavirus: MLB Players Trust commits $1million to support minor leaguers|
|MLB, MLBPA nearing agreement for 2020 season?|
|Coronavirus: MLBPA´s Clark says players ´disgusted´ with MLB commissioner Manfred|
|Astros pitcher Justin Verlander throws off mound|
|Coronavirus: MLBPA rejects latest offer, wants MLB to schedule season|
|Coronavirus: Blue Jays hope to play in Toronto, examining other options|
|Detroit Tigers select 1B Torkelson with top pick in MLB Draft|
|Coronavirus: Manfred says there is ´100 per cent´ chance of MLB season|
|GM: Astros would hold ´spring training´ at home park|
|Pirates pitcher Archer out for 2020 season after surgery|
|Coronavirus: David Price gives $1,000 to Dodgers minor leaguers|
|Coronavirus: MLB´s proposal for more salary cuts a non-starter – Scherzer|
|Coronavirus: Tampa Bay Rays open Tropicana Field for limited workouts|
|Rangers would prefer to hold second spring training at new stadium|
|Coronavirus: Nationals to receive World Series rings in virtual ceremony|
|Coronavirus: Former Astros, Athletics manager Howe in ICU with COVID-19|
|With the DH likely coming to all of MLB, which NL hitters would benefit the most?|
|Cashman: Yankees star Judge set to return at full capacity|
|Coronavirus: Rays star pitcher Snell refuses to play unless he gets full salary|
|Coronavirus: Nationals reliever Doolittle concerned about starting MLB season|
|Coronavirus: MLB to bring restart proposal to players, report says|
|Coronavirus: Less than one per cent of MLB employees test positive for COVID-19 antibodies|
|Coronavirus: MLB reportedly shortens 2020 draft from 40 rounds to five|
|Coronavirus: Stars salute return of baseball in South Korea|
|Red Sox outfielder Verdugo says he´s physically 100 per cent|
|Coronavirus: Rays´ Snell wins ´MLB The Show´ Players League championship|
|Former Athletics and All-Star pitcher Keough dies aged 64|
|No fans for MLB games? It´s happened before|
|Astros´ Verlander makes significant progress following groin surgery|
|Coronavirus: Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony postponed until 2021|
|Orioles star Mancini not expecting to play in 2020 due to colon cancer|
|Red Sox docked draft pick, Cora suspended one year for sign stealing|
|NTSB: MLB Hall of Famer Roy Halladay had drugs in system, doing stunts when plane crashed|
|Coronavirus: Arizona governor says state willing to host all 30 MLB teams in empty ballparks|
|Former MLB manager Jim Frey dies at 88|
|Yankees general partner, co-chairperson Hank Steinbrenner dies aged 63|
|Former All-Star Glenn Beckert dies at 79|
|Reynolds announces retirement after 13 years in MLB|
|Yankees again top Forbes´ annual MLB valuations|
|Who will shine and who will struggle due to delayed MLB schedule?|
|Coronavirus: MLB insists nothing decided amid reports season will start in May|
|MLB Hall of Famer and Detroit Tigers legend Al Kaline dead at 85|