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Cole hard facts: 10 stats from otherworldly ALDS

@SlangsOnSports and @AndrewSimonMLB
October 11, 2019

The Astros needed Gerrit Cole to deliver yet again on Thursday, and the right-hander did exactly that, throwing eight dominant innings to push Houston into the American League Championship Series.

The Astros needed Gerrit Cole to deliver yet again on Thursday, and the right-hander did exactly that, throwing eight dominant innings to push Houston into the American League Championship Series.

Cole’s spectacular performance Saturday in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Rays had staked the Astros to a 2-0 advantage, but after Houston couldn’t put Tampa Bay away the next two games, it was Cole’s turn again. He allowed just one run on two hits and two walks, and he struck out 10 to take advantage of his offense’s four-run first inning in a decisive 6-1 victory.

After that dominant ALDS, here are 10 facts to know about Cole’s latest gem, and his season-long run of success.

1) Cole’s eighth strikeout of the night was his 23rd of the series, which set a record for most strikeouts in a single Division Series. The previous record was 22, held by Stephen Strasburg (2017) and Justin Verlander ('12). Cole ended the ALDS with 25.

2) Those 25 strikeouts weren’t just a Division Series record. That also represented the most strikeouts all time by any Astros pitcher in a single postseason series of any length. The prior record was 21 by Verlander in the 2017 ALCS.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 4 HOU 6, TB 2 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 5 HOU 3, TB 1 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 7 TB 10, HOU 3 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 8 TB 4, HOU 1 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 10 HOU 6, TB 1 Watch

3) Cole's 25 strikeouts are second most by any pitcher in his first two starts of a postseason, behind only Bob Gibson’s 27 in the 1968 World Series.

4) Another way to look at Cole's 25 strikeouts? That’s tied for the second most by a pitcher in back-to-back postseason starts, with Mike Mussina. The only streak with more is the one noted above, by Gibson.

5) Dating to Aug. 7, Game 5 was Cole’s 11th straight start with double-digit strikeouts. The last time he didn’t reach at least 10 strikeouts was Aug. 1 in Cleveland. Cole’s nine straight regular-season starts with at least 10 strikeouts set a single-season record.

6) Including the postseason, Cole has 351 strikeouts this year, with more outings left in his 2019 postseason. That’s already sixth most of any pitcher in a year. That isn’t an official record, but the highest mark is 419 strikeouts by Randy Johnson in 2001, when the D-backs won the World Series in seven games.

7) Despite all of his strikeouts, Cole didn’t record one in the third inning of Game 5. He had recorded at least one strikeout in 73 consecutive innings dating to Aug. 1. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the longest such streak in the Expansion Era (since 1961) by 33 innings. Cole then went strikeout-less in the seventh inning, too.

8) Cole’s starts meant one thing definitively for the Astros in the ALDS: wins. He started two games, and Houston won both. In fact, the last time the Astros lost a Cole start was July 12 at the Rangers. The last time they lost a home start of his was May 22 against the White Sox.

9) Cole has won 18 decisions in a row since that loss to Chicago. According to STATS, that gives him the longest streak by any pitcher in a single season -- combining regular and postseason -- since the New York Giants’ Rube Marquard won 19 straight back in 1912. That was in the dead-ball era, though.

10) After setting a pitch-tracking era (since 2008) postseason record with 33 swinging strikes in Game 1 against Tampa Bay, Cole came back and missed a bat 19 times in Game 5. That gave him a total of 52 swinging strikes in the ALDS, with 24 of those coming on a four-seam fastball that never dropped below 95 mph out of the 129 times he threw it. Between the regular season and postseason, Cole now has racked up 676 swinging strikes in 2019, which is the most by any pitcher in one year in the pitch-tracking era.

Sarah Langs is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @SlangsOnSports.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.