Is this the new beginning?
Highly touted prospect, fifth overall draft pick in 2015, Kyle Tucker, has been struggling yet again in this, his third partial season in MLB. He came into the game striking out 30% of the time, hitting only .192, and managing a meager .563 OPS. The whispers, “AAAA player”, were growing louder with every plate failure.
In this game he was 1-4 with a strikeout. But what a one it was. With one out, in the bottom of the ninth, in a game tied 2-2, Kyle Tucker hit one almost as high as it was deep, 367 feet, just over the right field fence.
Here’s the scene of social distancing pandemonium as Tucker, on this day at least, fulfilled his destiny as Astros hero, the new Ted.
But as we celebrate the coming out of Kyle Tucker, let us not forget the remarkable second straight super pitching performance of Lance McCullers, who allowed two runs, three hits, and three walks in 5.2 innings. He struck out seven.
He should have had a shutout.
Though his command wasn’t as perfect as in his previous no run outing, he still had 57 strikes out of 97 pitches. He had 16 swinging strikes, almost all on curves. During the game pitching coach Brent Strom said that McCullers’ problem this year so far has been with the curve. In his last two games...problem solved.
Best curve AND best change-up? Watch out league. McCullers is baaaack.
Here’s why he should have had a shutout. The Mariners scored both their runs in the third inning. On an 0-2 pitch McCullers hit the first batter, Evan White, but struck out Dee Gordon. White stole second, (Martin Maldonado threw out the other two Mariners who dared steal on him) and White scored on a grounder to first that Yuli Gurriel should have played. McCullers struck out the next batter, but walked Dylan Moore.
In this at bat the umpire clearly and indisputably missed a low curve strike that would have been strike one, and a high outside fastball completely within the zone that should have been strike three. These missed calls left Lance visibly upset. If not for Tucker’s homer, these calls could have been the difference in the game.
The next hitter, the unbelievably talented rookie Kyle Lewis, blooped an off-the-end-of-the-bat single into center, scoring the second and last Mariners run of the game.
Lewis had two singles in the game, both came on 0-2 counts.
The Astros first run came in the second on a George Springer single against the shift into right field, scoring Abraham Toro, who filled in for the (already) injured Yordan Alvarez.
They added their second run in the fourth on a Martin Maldonado single scoring Kyle Tucker, who got on base on a fielder’s choice.
The bullpen came through yet again, with Ryan Pressly getting the save with another 1-2-3 ninth inning. There’s another important piece of the Astros puzzle, along with McCullers, who seems to be finding his form.
And the relief rookies overachieved yet again. Andre Scrubb with a scoreless inning, and Enoli Paredes and Blake Taylor each with .2 innings of scoreless relief. The two walks by Scrubb were a bit disconcerting in a close game, but he worked around them, and after 21 games he still hasn’t allowed a run. Paredes sports an even 3.00 ERA, and Taylor a 1.69.
Who saw that coming! How many of you even had heard of these guys before the season. Be honest.
But today it is Kyle Tucker day in Houston. Well done young man.