SEATTLE -- Astros rookie center fielder Jake Meyers is very much in the soaking-it-all-in phase of his Major League career, which encompasses 22 games so far. Meyers is still in awe of the huge crowds at big league ballparks and is trying to get comfortable with postgame media interviews, appearing most at ease between the lines.
Meyers came through with one of the biggest hits of his young career in the Astros’ 4-3 win over the Mariners on Monday night at T-Mobile Park when he stroked an RBI single off veteran reliever Joe Smith to score Kyle Tucker with the winning run in the eighth inning. The Astros, winners of eight of their last 11 games, increased their lead over the idle A’s atop the American League West to six games.
“I don’t know if I will ever settle in, but I feel a little bit more comfortable just trying to play the game of baseball and help the team win,” Meyers said. “I’m having a lot of fun doing that with this team.”
Meyers, the Astros' 13th-round pick in the 2017 Draft, wasn’t considered one of the club’s top prospects before exploding this year at Triple-A Sugar Land, where he hit .343 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 68 games. When the Astros traded Myles Straw to Cleveland last month, they called up Meyers to be their fourth outfielder.
Meyers got more playing than he could have imagined after Kyle Tucker landed on the injured list following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in mid-August. By the time Tucker got back, Chas McCormick, who took over for Straw as the starting center fielder, was on the injured list with a sore hand.
“I’m just trying to go day by day and whatever opportunities I get, I try to help the team win,” Meyers said. “I not try not to look too far in the future or look into things.”
The Astros, who fell behind when Dylan Moore slugged a pinch-hit two-run homer off Brooks Raley to put Seattle ahead, 3-2, in the sixth, rallied in the eighth off Smith, who was traded to the Mariners from Houston a month ago. Yuli Gurriel singled, went to second on an error and scored the tying run on Tucker’s single.
Meyers fell behind, 0-2, against Smith and worked the count even before driving a single to left field. Tucker stumbled off second base, but third-base coach Omar Lopez sent him anyway, and he scored easily when Moore regrettably didn’t even attempt a throw home.
“He threw me a couple of pretty good pitches -- slider away, sinker down and in,” Meyers said of Smith. “I got [down] 0-2 but I had seen two of his main pitches and so I was just trying to get a barrel on it and hit it hard somewhere. I did that.”
Ryan Pressly worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to lock down the save.
It was an impressive at-bat for the 25-year-old against Smith, a seasoned veteran who's the active leader in Major League Baseball in appearances. Meyers is hitting .375 (9-for-24) during his six-game hitting streak and is slashing .333/.355/.528 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 72 at-bats in his career.
“He’s not afraid,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “He has a lot of confidence. He has quiet confidence and he came up a big hit for us off a tough sinker baller, Joe. He fouled off some tough pitches and got one out over the plate and drove in the winning run.”
Meyers hit .213 in 24 games at Double-A in 2019 and didn’t play at all last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, so his emergence has been out of the blue for the Astros ... and for him.
“I was definitely daydreaming about it, dreaming about it, but I always believe that you need to believe that you’re going to be here to get here,” he said. “Yeah, it was tough to know when. But it’s fun being here and fun kind of living it out.”