I briefly made note of this already in posting the Yankees’ lineup, but it’s worth expanding on.
Mark Teixeira’s hamstring injury has forced manager Joe Girardi to make some lineup changes for Game 5 of the ALCS today and he has Lance Berkman playing first base and batting sixth against left-hander C.J. Wilson.
Berkman is one of the best, most underrated hitters of this era and he’s a switch-hitter who’s had plenty of success against left-handed pitching throughout his career. However, his production versus lefties has fallen off a cliff after age 30 and includes a .171 batting average this season.
Now, the sample size this season is only 82 at-bats, so those numbers may not be particularly meaningful. However, he also hit just .237 versus lefties from 2007-2009. Add it all up and in more than 500 total plate appearances spread over the past four seasons Berkman has hit a combined .225 with a .370 slugging percentage against southpaws.
By questioning his place in the lineup I’ve probably guaranteed that Berkman will go 5-for-5 with a pair of homers off Wilson, but before the game begins I’ll go ahead and suggest that Girardi is making a mistake by batting him so high in the lineup (and perhaps even by having him in the lineup at all).
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.