Shocker: New York writer says ballplayer won't hack it in New York

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I really can’t stand stuff like this blog post from Jeff Pearlman, in which he opines that Lance Berkman won’t be able to hack it in New York. The argument basically boils down to this: Berkman is a great clubhouse guy and a total pro, but he’s a “country dude” who is “an off-the-charts right-winger,” so he’s just not meant for New York.

Never mind that Andy Pettitte is an evangelical conservative from Louisiana.  Never mind that Nick Swisher grew up in West Virginia. Never mind that one way you can arguably describe the history of baseball is “farm boys come to the big city and lead the team to victory.” We’ll always have, it seems, some New York writer saying that so-and-so doesn’t have what it takes to play in New York.  If Pearlman was writing in the early 50s he’d probably say that some rube from Commerce, Oklahoma could never make it in the Big Apple.

Players have come to New York and failed. Lance Berkman may fail. Some even failed because New York truly got to them.  But to simply assume that a veteran like Berkman who has played all over the country and in the World Series is going to whimper and die when he sees those tall buildings, can’t find grits anywhere and has to pass by godless liberals on the streets is about the weakest sauce out there.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).