HOUSTON (AP) - When the Houston Astros needed a roster spot earlier this week they kept rookie Preston Tucker and sent the more experienced Robbie Grossman to Triple-A.
On Thursday night, Tucker showed them they made the right decision, finishing with three hits and an RBI to help Houston to a 6-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“What a great night,” manager A.J. Hinch said of Tucker’s performance. “The opportunities are so few and far between when you’re a young player like that … we kept him on the team when we had to make a move and he responds with really good at-bats. Big night for him, hitting the ball to all fields and handling some pretty good pitching.”
Tucker’s RBI double off Aaron Loup (1-2) with no outs in the seventh brought the Astros within 4-3. Villar’s groundball double down the right field line scored two more to give Houston the lead. The Blue Jays intentionally walked Jose Altuve with one out before he stole second and catcher Josh Thole’s error on the play allowed Villar to add an insurance run.
It was Houston’s 10th come-from-behind victory this season, which is second in the American League behind Kansas City.
“Winning’s huge for us but when we come from behind to win that’s even better and I think everyone’s having fun right now,” Tucker said.
Loup’s blown save ruined a solid start by Drew Hutchison, who allowed five hits and two runs with a season-high nine strikeouts in six innings.
“These guys are an aggressive team; they like to swing the bat,” Loup said. “I made a few mistakes in the zone, and they took advantage of it.”
Josh Fields (2-0) got the last two outs of the seventh for the win and Chad Qualls struck out one in a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion hit back-to-back home runs to give Toronto a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Tucker, who entered the game 0 for 7, had the first multi-hit game of his short career and Altuve added two hits for Houston, which is tied with Kansas City for the AL’s best record at 22-13.
Houston starter Roberto Hernandez yielded six hits and four runs in 6 1-3 innings.
Bautista drilled a homer off the wall above the Crawford Boxes in left field to give Toronto a 1-0 lead with two outs. Encarnacion’s home run came three pitches later to give Toronto back-to-back homers for the first time this season.
Luis Valbuena cut the lead to 2-1 with an RBI double that landed on Tal’s Hill in center field with one out in the bottom of the inning before George Springer drew a walk. But Hutchison struck out Colby Rasmus and Jason Castro to limit the damage.
Toronto’s Devon Travis drove in a run with a double in the third inning to make it 3-1.
Altuve doubled to start Houston’s sixth and scored on a groundout by Springer to get the Astros within 3-2.
The Blue Jays added a run on a sacrifice fly by Ezequiel Carrera in the seventh to make it 4-2.
Josh Donaldson singled in the eighth inning to extend his streak of reaching base safely against the Astros to 32 straight games, which is tied for the longest streak against one team in the majors.
Astros: The Astros placed LHP Brett Oberholtzer on the 15-day DL on Wednesday night after activating him from the DL earlier in the day. He started the season on the DL because of a blister on his left index finger and aggravated the injury in his start. Reliever Jake Buchanan was recalled from Triple-A Fresno on Thursday to take his spot on the roster. Hinch said he will decide in the upcoming days if they will go with a four-man rotation while Oberholtzer is out or if they will decide on a fifth starter.
ON THE FARM
Jon Singleton went 4 for 6 with two home runs and 10 RBIs for Houston’s Triple-A affiliate Fresno on Wednesday night. The 10 RBIs are a record for the Grizzlies and he leads all of the minors with 11 homers and 35 RBIs.
Singleton struggled as a rookie last season, hitting .168 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs in 95 games for the Astros and couldn’t crack the roster out of spring training.
“We are very aware of what’s going on below us in the minors,” Hinch said. “There’s no doubt Singleton’s making a push to factor back into the major league roster.”
Houston’s Dallas Keuchel looks to improve to 5-0 when he opposes R.A. Dickey in the second game of this four-game series on Friday night. Keuchel, who has a 1.39 ERA, has won a career-high six straight decisions dating to last season. Dickey has had a tough start to the season, going 1-4 with a 5.00 ERA.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.