Though the Houston Astros needed a bit longer than expected, they outlasted the Tampa Bay Rays to secure a place in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.
Houston scored four first-inning runs to put Tampa in a hole, and Gerrit Cole allowed a single run over eight innings. The Astros ended up with a 6-1 victory in Game 5.
New York, meanwhile, watched comfortably after sweeping the Minnesota Twins in their series.
The 2019 ALCS begins Saturday, Oct. 12, in Houston.
2019 ALCS Schedule (TV in parentheses)
Game 1, Oct. 12: Yankees as Astros, 8:08 p.m. ET (Fox)
Game 2, Oct. 13: Yankees at Astros, 8:08 p.m. ET (FS1)
Game 3, Oct 15: Astros at Yankees, TBD (Fox or FS1)
Game 4, Oct. 16: Astros at Yankees, TBD (Fox or FS1)
Game 5*, Oct. 17: Astros at Yankees, TBD (Fox or FS1)
Game 6*, Oct. 19: Yankees at Astros, TBD (Fox or FS1)
Game 7*, Oct. 20: Yankees or Astros, TBD (Fox or FS1)
* - if necessary
2019 ALCS Odds
Odds from Caesars
How heavy a load will Houston's rotation carry?
In all likelihood, that answer will determine the ALCS. The Astros have a dominant three-man starting group of Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, the latter of whom will start Game 1. All three are capable of limiting New York's powerful lineup.
That, of course, is much easier said than done.
During the ALCS, the Yankees earned a pair of six-run triumphs and advanced with a 5-1 victory, too. Pitching isn't considered New York's key strength, but the AL East champions limited the hard-hitting Twins to only seven runs in three games.
On paper, this matchup leans toward Houston. But the extra days off for the Yankees, combined with Houston needing Verlander and Cole in Games 4 and 5 of the ALDS, help even the scales.
The Astros don't have a great bullpen to bail them out, either. In the postseason, no other relief corps has allowed a batting average above .286; heading into the ALCS, this unit sits at .339.
While that's an admittedly small sample, it doesn't change the simple fact Houston is banking on its superstar trio and possible starter Jose Urquidy to carry the staff.
As with any playoff series, though, timely hitting will determine the result. The Astros hold the statistical advantage based on New York's less efficient rotation, and if they succeed against the Yankees' starters, they can atone for a weaker bullpen.
But if New York gets four high-quality starts, the perception of this series could change quickly.
Prediction: Astros in six
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.