Prospect becomes first player in Astros history to hit two pinch-hit home runs in one series
By Chris Vannini
Special to MLB.com |
DETROIT -- It took Preston Tucker only 13 games to put himself in the Astros' record book.
In the sixth inning of Houston's 10-8 win over Detroit on Sunday, Tucker's three-run pinch-hit home run was his second of the four-game series, making him the first player in franchise history with two pinch-hit home runs in a single series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Both tied their respective games, and both are the first two home runs of his young Major League career.
"It feels good to do that," Tucker said of the history. "It feels good we won the game today, which is awesome. Going out there on short notice, I just have to simplify things and basically see a ball and hit it hard. I think I did a good job of that. Hopefully, in the future when I pinch-hit, I can continue that."
The Astros had fallen behind, 7-3, by the time the sixth inning came up. A leadoff home run by designated hitter Evan Gattis cut the deficit to three, and singles by Chris Carter and Jonathan Villar put two on with two outs.
Tucker, the Astros' No. 15 prospect, according to MLB.com, said he only had about two minutes to prepare for the pinch-hit situation, but he made the most of it with about 10 swings in the batting cage, with Gattis giving him some tips. He took a low-and-inside changeup to the right-field seats.
"Not a lot of time," Tucker said. "When the inning was going on, they sent me down to the cage. ... I saw we had some runners on base. I went back in the dugout, and they said I was up. Figured I'd go out and give it my best shot."
Tucker said he's not particularly comfortable in pinch-hitting situations, but he was the right guy for the right spot.
"Really, the most important at-bats," manager A.J. Hinch said about using Tucker. "There, we're down three, a home run ties it. You never send somebody up there and tell them to homer, but that's clearly a situation where, if you're going to get one at-bat, with him up to bat … that matchup with Tuck was what we were waiting on."
In 13 games this year, Tucker is hitting 12-for-37 (.324) with six extra-base hits and five walks. He hit .320 in 25 games with Triple-A Fresno this year, and Hinch has only been more impressed with him.
"I think the quality of at-bats have been really consistent for a young player getting his first taste in the big leagues, seeing these pitchers for the first time," Hinch said. "He's very comfortable in the at-bat. There's some swing-and-miss in there, he doesn't chase a ton, but he also uses the whole field.
"The defense, sometimes they shift, sometimes they don't. He's got some key hard-hit base hits the other way, the big pull homer today. The use of the entire field and the consistency in his at-bats is very notable early."
It was another correct button pushed by Hinch, and the man who was giving Tucker tips in the cage wasn't surprised.
"He dominated Triple-A. He didn't get here on accident," Gattis said. "I'm just glad to see him get an opportunity up here, and glad to see he's making the most of it."
Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.