After playing 11 seasons with the Astros as one of the best players in franchise history Lance Berkman returned to Houston for the first time and was met by some pretty harsh criticism from local announcer Milo Hamilton.
Berkman handled things about as well as possible in responding to the criticism and then responded with his bat by collecting eight hits and seven RBIs in three games against the Astros, including a pair of homers last night.
Here’s what he said after the game:
I don’t think I could have asked for a better return to Minute Maid. It’s not something like I came in here with a vendetta, or something to prove. I just wanted to play well in front of my family. I can’t imagine I’ll ever come into this building and not think about 11 years of great memories. One series doesn’t put that to bed. It will always be a special place to me.
Berkman is now hitting .410 with with eight homers, eight doubles, and a 1.263 OPS through 22 games for the Cardinals, leading the league in slugging percentage and OPS while ranking second in batting average, homers, and RBIs.
I liked the Cardinals’ decision to sign Berkman to a one-year, $8 million deal, but my question was whether he’d bounce back enough offensively from a career-worst season to make up for some ugly defense. His glove in right field has been every bit as shaky as expected, but so far at least the 35-year-old Berkman is hot enough at the plate that no one cares.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: