Astros reject Lance Berkman’s attempt to return to Houston

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Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes that Lance Berkman “believed he would return to the Astros in 2011 … from the moment he was traded to the Yankees last July.” However, when his agent approached general manager Ed Wade about potentially returning to Houston he was told “thanks, but no thanks.”

“It wasn’t a long conversation,” Berkman told Justice. “After initially being pretty disappointed, I’ve gotten over it. Now my focus is on who is going to contend that wants me to play for them.”

Most players let their agent do the dirty work when it comes to talking publicly about the offers they’re receiving on the open market, but Berkman cut out the middle man and told Justice that he’s had interest from the Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, A’s, Pirates, and Blue Jays. However, according to Berkman most teams are merely in the “tire-kicking” stage right now and he’s yet to receive any concrete offers “in terms of X amount of dollars.”

Berkman is 35 years old and coming off the worst season of his career, struggling for the Yankees following a mid-season trade and finishing with a sub-.800 OPS for the first time, but he maintained good on-base skills and could resume being a very dangerous hitter if his power returns even a little bit.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.