Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

David Brown

Puma Power: Berkman awakens in Yankees playoff debut

David Brown
Big League Stew

View gallery

.

MINNEAPOLIS — Lance Berkman(notes) spent most of his career batting third or fourth for the Houston Astros.

In Berkman's first career playoff appearance for the New York Yankees, manager Joe Girardi put him eighth.

Or, as Berkman jokingly called it with his Texas drawl: "Big snowman."

Having a self-effacing sense of humor serves Berkman well, especially considering the big zeroes he was putting up for New York. With the Yankees, he had been much more "Fat Elvis" than he was "Big Puma."

Despite a lowly spot in the order, Berkman performed like a cleanup hitter Thursday night, lining a pair of go-ahead hits — including a solo home run and a two-run double — in the Yankees 5-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins.

"That's why I wanted to come over here, was just the chance to play in these games," said Berkman, who made the postseason three times in 11-plus seasons with the Astros, but not since 2005.

Berkman's breakout game helped the Yankees take a 2-0 series lead, and also helps him file his unremarkable regular-season stint with the Yankees under life experience. Even better, he's probably just one or two more hits away from receiving a lifetime invitation to Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium. Move over, Homer Bush.

"You don't feel like you're really part of the team until you have done something to help the team," said Berkman, 34, who called 2010 the worst year of his career.

Andy Pettitte(notes) also had yet another Pettitte-like playoff performance to give New York a chance to sweep back in the Bronx on Saturday. Pettitte was Berkman's teammate in Houston and helped persuade him to waive his no-trade clause.

Berkman admitted to doubting whether he had done the right thing.

View gallery

.

As they passed each other in the interview room, Pettitte cracked a joke.

"I told Lance that I hadn't won a game since he got here. I was going to try to get rid of him," Pettitte said.

Few would have stopped Pettitte, were he serious (and general manager Brian Cashman). A five-time All-Star in the NL with 326 homers, Berkman hit .255/.358/.349 with one homer in 123 regular-season plate appearances for the Yankees since debuting July 31.

That's one reason Berkman didn't care about hitting eighth — which only happened once in Houston. Another reason: With Alex Rodriguez(notes), Mark Teixeira(notes), Curtis Granderson(notes) and Robinson Cano(notes) in the lineup, where else is he going to bat?

"I don't expect to hit in front of any of those guys," Berkman said. "I am just glad to be in the lineup."

Berkman kept working with hitting coach Kevin Long and, Pettitte revealed, the pair had a recent breakthrough.

"He said he was launching balls in [batting practice] yesterday," Pettitte said. "And he said he felt unbelievable up there and felt like he was going to be able to drive the ball the other way."

Berkman finally made an honest man of him.

"I have been telling everybody in the clubhouse, it is like, this guy can hit the ball so far to the opposite field, he has more power oppo probably than anybody I ever played with," Pettitte said. "It [just] hasn't clicked for him for the last two months."

View gallery

.

It's clicked for Berkman for one game. Batting left-handed against Carl Pavano(notes) in the fifth, Berkman's home run went 438 feet to left-center to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

His double — which came after a borderline, disputed ball called by umpire Hunter Wendelstedt — put the Yankees up 3-2 in the seventh.

Replays show Berkman got a break on the call — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was thrown out for arguing — but he'll take it.

Berkman probably was due to catch a break.

* * *

Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • NFL power rankings, Week 4: 49ers right in the middle sounds about right

    I decided to put together some of my very own power rankings. Why should others get all the mockery? Who have I overvalued and undervalue through Week 3? Normally on Tuesday I put together a rundown of NFL power rankings, looking at what some sites

    SB Nation37 mins ago
    Sun, Sep 21
    San Francisco14 - 23Arizona
    Game Recap
  • Williams quits Wuhan event after illness

    The American top seed was leading 6-5 after breaking Cornet's serve with a smash only for the doctor to come on court at the change over and take the 32-year-old's temperature. Williams, who was playing in her first match since winning her 18th grand slam singles title at the U.S. Williams had…

    Reuters
  • Mark Cuban made comments about the NFL six months ago and he was right

    Peter King of Sports Illustrated looks back at the comments from Maverick owner Mark Cuban about the future of the NFL. ESPN's Marc Stein has a great write up about the premiere of the Berlin Tall's new movie.

    SB Nation
  • Former CB Brian Baucham Sues USC and Lane Kiffin

    Former USC Trojans' cornerback Brian Baucham is suing the university and ex-coach Lane Kiffin, according to an Associated Press report. In the September 2012 game, Brian Baucham collapsed during the second half and was taken to the hospital by an ambulance. Baucham hadn't played in USC's previous…

    SB Nation
  • Wayne Simmonds was ejected because his opponent was too slow

    Wayne Simmonds was kicked out of the third period against the Leafs on Monday night in the preseason opener. Korbinian Holzer of the Maple Leafs was really not alright with the above hit from Wayne Simmonds during the third period of the Flyers game against Toronto on Monday night. Simmonds gave…

    SB Nation
  • Rumor Roundup (Sept. 23, 2014): Sting, Austin Aries, Cesaro and the future of the Bellas

    Speculating on the rumors surrounding pro wrestling is a favored pastime of many fans, perhaps second only to actually watching the matches. In this daily column, we take a look at the latest rumors being churned out by the pro wrestling rumor mill. None of this has been confirmed as legitimate…

    SB Nation
  • DeSean Jackson doesn't realize the Washington Redskins lost to the Eagles

    Apparently Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson did not realize his team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday. Yeah, Jackson scored, he taunted Eagles players and fans, and he got his 'revenge' on this play. Check the scoreboard, DeSean.

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Washington34 - 37Philadelphia
    Game Recap
  • NFL Week 4 Waiver Wire: Quarterbacks and Running Backs

    Ray offers some players to rarget on your league waiver wire this week, including Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, LeGarrette Blount and others. In Week 3, the injuries were the story behind many waiver wire selections. In Week 4, we have some players who have earned themselves a starting role,…

    SB Nation
  • GIF: Brock Lesnar Curb Stomped by Seth Rollins at WWE Night of Champions 2014

    At some point or another it was decided that the finish to the Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena rematch at Night of Champions on Sept. 21, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee would feature a run-in from Seth Rollins. It was also decided that Lesnar, vulnerable thanks to Cena spamming finishers for the last 10…

    SB Nation
  • Report: Steelers signing James Harrison after losing Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones

    In order to bolster their linebacking depth, the Pittsburgh Steelers are signing former NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison. The Pittsburgh Steelers had a convincing 37-19 win over the Carolina Panther on Sunday, but it was costly. Jarvis Jones was placed on IR-Recall after suffering a…

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Tennessee7 - 33Cincinnati
    Game Recap
  • Darnell Dockett has tickets for Cardinals fan getting in a brawl with 49ers fans

    Sunday was kind of a wild day at the 49ers-Cardinals game. Aside from just the loss, 49ers and Cardinals fans got into a nasty brawl in the stands. It's a really nasty fight, with quite a bit of blood on the ground as the fight wrapped up. It seemed

    SB Nation
  • Undertaker rumors of poor health seemingly debunked by his wife, Michelle McCool

    Over the weekend, a weird rumor started making the rounds that Undertaker is in poor health or bad shape or whatever other term you want to use to signify someone is not doing well physically. The source for this was, apparently, Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst, who reportedly dedicated a song…

    SB Nation
  • The Big Ten's strengths, weaknesses and Michigan

    We're back with another week of Big Ten football and this time there are a few nice things to say! As a conference, the Big Ten had its best Saturday of the season three days ago. Trust me when I tell you this next statistic is not a typo, but every

    SB Nation
  • Gerald Wallace's contract is like a lottery ticket for the Boston Celtics

    Gerald Wallace was stoic last season. Wallace's three-year, $30.3 million contract was criticized by Celtics fans in a Bill Simmons piece published on Grantland. Eric in Springfield, Massachusetts: "Instead of a jersey number, could the Celtics convince Wallace to wear all the first-rounders we got…

    SB Nation
  • Gareth Bale kicks the ball at Luka Modric's face

    You know what hurts more than seeing Gareth Bale and Luka Modric scoring amazing goals and winning trophies like we always hoped they would do for Tottenham Hotspur? Watching them turn on each other. GARETH BALE KICKED THE BALL AT LUKA MODRIC'S

    SB Nation
  • Blake Griffin wasn't surprised by Donald Sterling's racist rant

    When Donald Sterling's racism scandal grabbed national attention during the first round of the NBA playoffs last spring, it put the coaches and players of the Los Angeles Clippers in an awkward position. With Sterling disgraced and not yet banned from the league, the team itself was forced to…

    Ball Don't Lie
  • Asian Games 'Medal Ceremony Girls' join beauty battle

    North Korea has its "Army of Beauties", but the rival South is fighting back at the Asian Games with its "Medal Ceremony Girls". Many South Koreans were heartbroken when the rival North refused to send its renowned cheerleaders to the pan-Asian sporting event in Incheon, in a political wrangle. The…

    AFP