Age really is just a number, and Lance Berkman —at the ripe old age of 37— has proven that so far this season.
The longtime Astros switch-hitting slugger won a world series title as a member of the Cardinals, and got off to a similarly hot start the same year they won it all. While it's still early in the season, Berkman is hitting .480 with a homer and seven RBIs, and is slugging an astounding .760.
Roberto Hernandez saw first hand the power that "Big Puma" still has, even this late in his career. Berkman laced a double right up the middle in the third inning, driving in two runs in the process and giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead that they would only add on to in the later innings.
Apart from giving up a two-run double to Berkman in the third, Hernandez had a particularly rough night on the mound: he gave up runs to Elvis Andrus and Adrian Belre in the fifth, and in the seventh gave up another run to Elvis Andrus. An errant throw by James Loney allowed Craig Gentry to score to make it a 6-1 ballgame.
Hernandez has never really found much success as a starter, other than his 2007 campaign with the Indians which put him in the middle of the Cy Young Award talks. Since '07, he has had trouble keeping his ERA below 4.50, and his career ERA is quite high at 4.64; tonight showed why it's that high. Location/command troubles were evident from the 10th pitch, and Hernandez was never able to recover after Berkman's two-run double.
The Rangers starter, Nick Tepesch, was making his major-league debut tonight, and he more than impressed the Rangers coaches. 7.1 Innings pitched, only 4 hits and a single earned run, with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts, and kept the Rays hitters off all night.
The final game in the series is tomorrow afternoon at 2:05 p.m., with Matt Moore taking on fellow lefty Derek Holland.