For the second consecutive season, Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow are opposing each other for the right to advance to the American League Championship Series.
This time there will be some major differences when Cole takes the mound for the New York Yankees and Glasnow starts for the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night in Game 5 of the AL Division Series in San Diego.
“It’s a special opportunity,” Cole said. “I think everyone’s feeling like it’s going to be a special game, a big game for us. You always want to be out there in the big moment.”
Both starters will be pitching on short rest. The series has contained no off days and is being played in an empty stadium — unlike the 43,418 who were on hand to watch Cole and Glasnow start in Game 5 on Oct. 10, 2019, in last year’s ALDS.
In that contest, played at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, Cole was pitching for the Astros, and he fired eight strong innings to beat Glasnow and Tampa Bay 6-1.
The Rays are optimistic about a better outcome.
“We’re coming to win,” Tampa Bay shortstop Willy Adames said. “We’re coming to win. We gotta do everything we can to win the game. We gotta bring the energy. Who said it was gonna be easy?”
The winner will face the Astros in the American League Championship Series, with Game 1 slated for Sunday in San Diego.
The final installment of the AL East rivalry — until next season — reached a winner-take-all game when the Yankees evened the series with a 5-1 victory Thursday thanks to a solo homer by regular-season home run champion Luke Voit and a two-run homer by Gleyber Torres.
New York began the series with a 9-3 victory but followed it up with an 8-4 loss on Tuesday and a 7-5 defeat Wednesday when its starting pitching plans faltered.
The Yankees are trying to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the ALDS and advance for the third time in franchise history. New York overcame 0-2 deficits against Oakland in 2001 and against Cleveland in 2017 in the division series. In 2019, two teams also advanced out of best-of-five series after trailing 2-1 — the St. Louis Cardinals got by the Atlanta Braves, and the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals rallied past the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tampa Bay is playing in a winner-take-all game for the third time in the ALDS and the fifth time overall, including a single-game wild-card playoff in 2013. The Rays are 2-2 in the four previous circumstances.
In Game 5 of the 2019 ALDS, Cole was pitching on four days’ rest, and he struck out 10 while allowing one run and two hits. Glasnow, pitching on five days’ rest, gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings, which could be the length he goes Friday.
If Glasnow is used in an opener role, it is possible Blake Snell could follow with the hopes the Rays can get the lead and hand it to high-leverage relievers Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson and Pete Fairbanks, who were not used Thursday.
“I haven’t really talked about innings or anything like that,” Glasnow said. “I just know I’m starting tomorrow, but I feel good about it. I’m excited. As far as health goes, I feel good. I’m ready to go. I was in the ‘pen today. I was ready to come out today.”
Cole pitched six innings in Game 1, when he allowed three runs on six hits and got eight strikeouts in a 97-pitch outing. He is starting in his fourth winner-take-all game. Besides last season, Cole lost Game 5 of the NLDS for Pittsburgh against St. Louis in 2013, and he lost the 2015 NL wild-card game for the Pirates against the Chicago Cubs.
Glasnow got 10 strikeouts in five-plus innings in Game 2 on Tuesday. He allowed four runs on three hits, and he got the win when New York’s plan to use rookie Deivi Garcia as an opener backfired.
“I’m sure (Glasnow) will be an opener thing for them, and I’m sure they’ll bring in Snell, too, and then all their other guys in the bullpen,” Voit said. “(Glasnow) has obviously got his heater, but he’s got one of the best curveballs in the game, too. We’ve seen him enough. We’ve got a good game plan against him, and we’ve just got to get the runs in early.”
–Field Level Media