Tucker breaks out of slump with 3-hit night, game-winning HR in 9th

Astros take first game in rematch of last year's AL Division Series

May 6th, 2023

SEATTLE -- has started in right field for the Astros in every game this season and has played in all but four innings. Perhaps there was a little bit of fatigue setting in, with Tucker entering Friday’s game against the Mariners in a 2-for-22 slump with no extra-base hits.

A day off in the cool, crisp air of the Pacific Northwest allowed Tucker to free his mind and body. He roamed the downtown streets Thursday and grabbed some meals with teammates and other staff members. A rejuvenated Tucker showed up at T-Mobile Park on Friday night and went 3-for-4 with a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth inning in the Astros’ 6-4 win.

“It was a nice little off-day and being able to come in and get our work in before the game and get the win was awesome,” Tucker said. 

The Astros improved to 10-1 in their last 11 games against their American League West rivals, including a three-game sweep of Seattle in last year’s AL Division Series. Houston kept the momentum going in the first meeting of the series between the clubs, with hitting a three-run homer in the third inning.

“That was a great game for us to win and for us to kind of hold them off until Tucker hit the homer,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “He was swinging it great all night. So hopefully he’s about to get hot again.”

Tucker singled in the second inning and doubled and scored in the fourth inning. Neither ball was hit particularly hard, but he had a long flyout in the sixth that was 100 mph off the bat and his two-run homer off Matt Brash to break a 4-4 tie was 104.2 mph off the bat.

“I didn’t really feel very comfortable the last two weeks or so,” Tucker said. “I was just trying to lock it in a little bit more and zero in on pitches moreso in the middle of the plate, rather than just swinging at anything. Just the pitch selection helps out and gets you more comfortable and gets you in deeper counts and better at-bats.”

In his game-deciding at-bat in the ninth inning, Tucker took a close 2-2 pitch that landed on the fringe of the zone and was called a ball. He crushed the next pitch, a slider, and sailed it 408 feet over the center-field wall. Mariners manager Scott Servais was later ejected arguing with the plate umpire.

“I took it because I thought it was away,” Tucker said. “I haven’t looked back on it to see where it was. In the moment, I thought it was off the plate, but I haven’t rewatched it, so I don’t know exactly where it was.”

Tucker was swinging the bat Friday while wearing batting gloves, which he normally doesn’t do. He said he wore them mostly because he was cold, but he’s been known to put on some gloves if he’s in a prolonged slump. Don’t be surprised to see the gloves remain on his hands for now.

“They’ve got a good team over there, so we have to lock it in every single day that we play them, every single at-bat and inning,” Tucker said. “Good to get the win today and try to do it again tomorrow.”