Tucker would gladly trade multi-HR Astros first for G1 victory

October 29th, 2022

HOUSTON — Kyle Tucker would have gladly traded in his heroics for a team win in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday. Instead, he left Minute Maid Park at the end of the night feeling somewhat hollow, reflecting on a breakout performance that in most cases would have been plenty to lead his team to victory but this time, wasn’t enough, as the Phillies rallied for a 6-5 win in 10 innings.

“I’d rather have not done that, and won the game,” Tucker said. “But that’s not how it worked out.”

Tucker hit homers in each of his first two at-bats, staking the Astros to a 5-0 lead. Given the way this team has performed this postseason — they hadn’t lost a game yet after sweeping the Mariners and Yankees in the first two rounds — there was every reason to believe this one would be a continuation of the good times that started rolling weeks ago.

Tucker’s first home run led off the second inning and sent a frenetic, hanky-waving Houston crowd into delirium. When he sent another baseball into the right-field stands one frame later — this one a three-run shot — he just about blew the roof off, giving Justin Verlander and the Astros a comfortable cushion in what was looking like a sure-fire Game 1 win.

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The performance was just the eighth multi-homer game in World Series history, the first since the Rays’ Brandon Lowe in 2020 and the first ever by an Astros player.

Kyle Tucker’s solo home run
The Game 1 breakout also brought out some giddiness from the normally stoic Tucker. The right fielder tossed his bat with enthusiasm after his first homer. After the second, he did a little twirl before throwing his bat, this time with a little more oomph.

“It’s the playoffs,” Tucker said. “Putting up runs is hard, especially against good pitchers. Anytime you can get on base or hit a homer or drive in a run, it’s huge. We just have to try to do more of that tomorrow.”

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Kyle Tucker on two-homer game
Michael Brantley had been the last Astros batter to club multiple homers in a postseason contest, when he did so in Games 4 and 5 of the 2020 American League Division Series against the A’s. Brantley had also been the last Astros player to go deep in consecutive innings of a postseason game.

Tucker was relatively quiet in the AL Championship Series, going 2-for-13 with a pair of singles — but he took the first big swing of this Fall Classic by crushing a 1-1 changeup from Aaron Nola that traveled an estimated 359 feet into right field in the second inning, marking the first time an opposing left-handed hitter had taken Nola’s changeup deep all season. The Astros continued the rally with three more knocks, capped by Martín Maldonado’s one-out RBI single.

Tucker worked a full count off Nola in the third inning before swatting a sinker over the head of right fielder Nick Castellanos and into the stands to secure the first multi-homer game of his postseason career and his first career game with multiple blasts at Minute Maid Park.

“Kyle, he’s been fantastic for us all year — should probably win a Silver Slugger,” Verlander said. “One of the best hitters in baseball. So I don’t think anybody’s surprised in our locker room.”

Tucker is one of four players in history to have three or more hits and two or more homers in Game 1 of a World Series. The others are Pablo Sandoval (2012), Andruw Jones (1996) and Ted Kluszewski (1959).

Tucker graciously acknowledged the milestones when reporters relayed the stats, and he expressed appreciation for the fans who cheered behind him in right field when he returned to play defense.

But he also emphasized the importance of moving on from this game, no matter how personally satisfying it might have been, and focusing on the next.

Kyle Tucker’s two-homer game
“The guys are kind of over it already,” he said. “We flip the switch pretty quick. Learn from what we could have done better today and try to do it better tomorrow.”