Carlos Beltran homers twice, drives in seven runs

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Albert Pujols remains homerless for the Angels, but the man signed to replace him in the Cardinals’ lineup went deep twice yesterday and drove in seven runs.

Carlos Beltran now has seven homers in 23 games for St. Louis, and he’s hitting .279 with a .398 on-base percentage and .535 slugging percentage to essentially match last season’s excellent production for the Mets and Giants.

Those numbers can’t match vintage Pujols production, but his .933 OPS is nearly double Pujols’ current .539 mark and Beltran looks like an absolute bargain on a two-year, $26 million deal. And perhaps most importantly he’s been healthy, starting his 17th straight game last night and, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports, talking his way into the lineup when manager Mike Matheny wanted to give him a day off.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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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: