Lance Berkman criticizes the Rangers in explaining why he chose St. Louis over Texas

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During a Houston radio interview yesterday Lance Berkman talked about his offseason and explained why he opted to sign with St. Louis instead of Texas (among several other teams).

Berkman was remarkably honest in his comments and said plenty of stuff that will no doubt anger the Rangers and their fans.

In fact, Rangers starter C.J. Wilson has already taken to the radio airwaves in Dallas to respond to Berkman’s comments.

First, here’s some of what Berkman said during the interview, courtesy of ESPNDallas.com’s Richard Durrett:

I felt like if they didn’t re-sign Cliff Lee that they were going to be an average team and I feel that’s probably what’s going to end up happening. It’s all about your pitching. I feel like last year was one of those special years where you kind of catch lightning in a bottle and they got hot and they had some guys that I felt like were pitching better than their talent level and consequently they had a great year.

They were itching to spend some money. I probably could have gotten the best deal out of them, especially in light of what they gave Adrian Beltre, which I think is pretty much of a reach for him.

Athletes don’t normally say stuff like that in public, but most of Berkman’s comments are ultimately pretty reasonable. He’s saying the Rangers seem likely to regress after failing to re-sign Cliff Lee, got several better-than-expected pitching performances on the way to the World Series last season, and gave Adrian Beltre more money than many people believe he’s worth.

Those are all things Rangers fans don’t want to hear, certainly, but none of them are particularly outlandish and in fact they’re all probably pretty close to qualifying as conventional wisdom. Of course, Wilson didn’t see things that way and responded as follows:

I think it’s funny. He was contemplating retirement, so I’m not going to take anything too seriously. I’m not going to get offended by anything he says. If that’s a representative idea of what people around the league think, that’s better for us because they’re going to do the same thing and they’re going to not take us seriously. If we end up stomping through the playoffs again, everyone will be like, “Wow, what a bummer.”

I think things really worked out well for us. Adrian Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, and he’s a pretty good hitter as well. I don’t know if anyone knows he hit .340 last year, which is definitely better than .220. I’m pretty stoked about having him on my team. If someone is going to slam us, that’s going to be something. You hold little grudges like that. I hope the fans understand and when Lance comes to play at some point in Texas, I hope our fans boo.

Berkman and the Cardinals won’t be traveling to Texas to play the Rangers this season. Unless they meet in the World Series, of course, in which case Berkman’s comments about the Rangers will likely have been proven inaccurate anyway.

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).