“Kyle, he’s been fantastic for us all year,” Verlander said. “Should probably win a Silver Slugger. One of the best hitters in baseball. So I don’t think anybody’s surprised in our locker room.”
Then in the third, Tucker capped a seven-pitch at-bat by sending a sinker from Nola soaring into Houston’s bullpen. He flipped his bat toward the Astros’ dugout and shouted in glee while rounding the bases with the first multi-homer game in a Series opener since Cleveland’s Roberto Pérez in 2016.
“It’s the playoffs — putting up runs is pretty hard, especially against good pitchers,” Tucker said. “So any time you get on base or hit a homer or drive in a run is huge.”
In Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees at home, Tucker caught an eighth-inning drive by star slugger Aaron Judge near the top of the wall to preserve Houston’s one-run lead.
“I kind of had flashbacks of the play that Tucker made on Judge’s ball that last series,” Realmuto said. “Once I saw him running back to the wall, I was thinking in my head, oh, please just don’t catch it, just don’t catch it. I knew it was going to be close. I thought originally I had enough, but once I saw him running back to the wall, I wasn’t so sure.”
In the bottom half, Tucker came to the plate with one out following Alex Bregman’s double off David Robertson and struck out.
Aledmys Diaz hit a game-ending grounder with runners at second and third, and the Astros lost Game 1 of the Series just as they did in 2005, 2017, 2019 and last year.
“I think this team, we have an ability when our back’s against the wall to play our best baseball,” Verlander said. “I expect nothing different moving forward from everybody in this locker room, including myself. And hopefully I get another opportunity to pitch and can do better.”
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