HOUSTON — The Houston Astros jumped on Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasnow from the outset Thursday in a clinching Game 5 win in their American League Division Series. It was almost as if they knew what was coming.
They might have; at the outset at least, Glasnow appeared to be tipping his pitches.
“I went back and looked, and it was pretty obvious,” Glasnow said. “As far as the tips go.”
George Springer led off the bottom of the first with a sharp single, a hit that not only started what proved to be the decisive Houston rally but was what teammate Alex Bregman called “one of the biggest hits of our season.”
Michael Brantley followed with another single, sending Springer to third. Jose Altuve singled to right, driving in Springer with the game’s first run and advancing Brantley to third. Bregman plugged the gap in right-center for a two-run double. Two batters later, Yuli Gurriel capped the rally with an RBI single.
The tally: Five base hits and four runs from the Astros’ first six hitters of the game.
“I’m aware that there is speculation about pitch tipping,” Rays manager Kevin 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.”
Bregman denied the tipping theory, saying that there are bigger issues to worry about when facing a pitcher with Glasnow’s elite stuff.
“No, no, no,” Bregman said when asked whether he detected something in Glasnow. “He’s as tough to face as anybody; I think if you went around and asked everybody on our team, it was just a team approach today. It was just one at-bat after another.
“The ball that Glasnow throws, that cutter, the four-seam cutter that he throws is unbelievable. His breaking ball goes from your head to your toes quick. So I feel like, with him, you just had to pick a pitch and try to put a pretty good swing on it.”
Glasnow settled down after the rough beginning and retired the last six Houston hitters he faced, before giving way to the Rays’ deep bullpen. He, too, refused to blame the tipping for his issues early in the game — mostly.
“I’m not going to say that was the reason why,” Glasnow said. “I left some pitches that were there to hit over the middle of the plate. They are really good hitters. They can do things with [those].
“I don’t care about how hard how you throw, they are good hitters. I don’t know if that is what it was, but when I look back, it was pretty obvious.”