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KYLE DOES IT AGAIN! King Tuck’s pinch-hit late homer helps Astros take series

As a pinch-hitter, Kyle Tucker played hero AGAIN to give Justin Verlander the win.

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I swear it wasn’t a replay! For the third game in a row, Kyle Tucker was the Astros’ hero to get the win, this time 3-2 against the Rangers in the series finale.

Tucker made the difference on Thursday with an eight-inning two-run homer as a pinch-hitter off reliever Matt Bush. The Astros have now won three in a row and their first series since the opening week matchup against the Angels (April 7-10).

Ironically, Rangers’ starter Martín Pérez had a perfect-game bid going until the seventh inning, when Chas McCormick led things off with a line-drive double to break the perfecto. In that same episode, Yordan Álvarez drove in McCormick with a two-out single to crack the score 1-0.

Before the seventh, Justin Verlander was head-to-head with Pérez in an outstanding pitching duel. Verlander finished his day after 91 pitches through seven innings of four hits and one earned run, with no walks and eight strikeouts. The lone run he allowed came via sacrifice fly by Adolis García to tie things up in the seventh.

If there were any doubts around Verlander’s quality after undergoing Tommy John surgery and not pitching since July 24, 2020, the living legend is evaporating all the doubts with an incredible beginning in 2022. After four starts, he’s 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 28 strikeouts through 26 frames. His WHIP is at 0.69 and opponents are hitting for a poor .161 average off him.

JV picked up his 228th career win, leading all active pitchers in the Major Leagues. Among actives, he’s one of two pitchers with at least 200 wins along with former teammate Zack Greinke (219).

With Verlander done, Tucker launched his moonshot, Blake Taylor had a good eighth inning, and Rafael Montero got the save against his former team. He allowed a solo shot to Corey Seager, but got things done to seal the win.

On Friday night, the Astros head to Rogers Centre to visit the Toronto Blue Jays for a three-game series. Last week, both teams had their first matchups of the year and the Canadians got the best part with two wins out of three games. José Urquidy will take the ball to start with Yusei Kikuchi as his counterpart.