Kyle Tucker reminded the Astros why he’d been their most untouchable prospect. He did it with a 103 mph double in the second inning on Friday night in Anaheim and again with a 109 mph single in the fourth.
But the one they’re most likely to remember came in the seventh inning when manager Dusty Baker left him in the game to face left-hander Hoby Milner with the bases loaded and the Astros leading by two runs. Tucker delivered a sharp ground-ball single -- 94 mph off the bat -- to score two runs as the Astros opened a nine-game road trip with a 9-6 victory over the Angels.
Tucker’s three hits and career-high four RBIs came on a night when the Astros broke out of their offensive funk with 12 hits off nine Angels pitchers. But they needed them as Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. was gone after four innings, and Baker was again forced to rely on rookie relievers to finish the game.
This season opened with Tucker having played just 50 career games and unsure how many he’d get into in 2020 with veteran outfielders stacked up in front of him. But with 2019 American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez not yet ready, Tucker has taken advantage of the opportunity.
“I told him early in the game, 'Hey man, this is your night, just keep playing,’” Baker said.
Tucker began the day with a .188 batting average that didn’t tell the story of a hard-hit rate that topped the Astros last season. Now he has something to show for his play.
“I found a couple of holes tonight,” Tucker said. “Which is good. I always try and stay upbeat and just do my part.”
Once McCullers was gone, the challenge was on.
"It's the most surreal thing,” Scrubb said. “Everyone keeps asking me how I feel, and I tell them like I can't explain it. I feel like it's a dream. I'm living a dream right now. So very surreal.”
The Astros’ bullpen was stressed even more when right-hander Bryan Abreu got one out before departing with a bloody nail on the thumb of his pitching hand. Rookie righty Enoli Paredes touched 98 mph on the radar gun a couple of times in pitching 1 2/3 innings and getting inning-ending double plays in the seventh and eighth innings. He was charged with one run.
“They grew up in a hurry,” Baker said. “I've been talking to them and saying, 'This is your chance to stay. Very rarely are you going to get these kinds of opportunities.' You walk 12, you don’t usually win that game. But these guys battled.”