Angels look to shut down Kyle Tucker, Astros

Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker showed Sunday how unflappable he’s been this season. After striking out in each of his first three at-bats, he homered in his final two plate appearances in the finale of a three-game interleague series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

On Tuesday, Tucker was at it again. He posted the seventh multi-homer game of his career, his fourth of the season, and his second in three games to help carry the Astros to a 6-5, 10-inning victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels that evened this best-of-three series.

Tucker entered Tuesday leading the American League in OPS (1.039), slugging (.618), on-base percentage (.421) and walks (39). He maintained that incredible production by going 2-for-4 with two solo home runs, his 16th and 17th, three runs scored and a walk. Tucker matched George Springer and Morgan Ensberg for the club record for home runs through 49 games, and his ability to deliver for the Astros in clutch situations has fueled their recent rise up the standings.

“Just impressive,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “Every time he comes to the plate, you’re just expecting him to do something awesome. Only a few players can do what he’s doing. He’s definitely one of the best players in this league and he’s really picking us up right now.”

Right-hander Hunter Brown (1-4, 7.71 ERA) is scheduled to start the rubber match for the Astros on Wednesday. He earned his first win this season in his previous start after allowing four runs on four hits and three walks with five strikeouts over five innings in a 5-4 victory over the Brewers on Friday. The four hits matched a season low for Brown, who has recorded a 4.40 ERA with 17 strikeouts over 14 1/3 innings and three appearances (two starts) in May.

Brown has faced the Angels once previously and allowed four runs on nine hits and one walk with three strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings on May 8, 2023. He did not factor into the decision of a 6-4 loss.

Left-hander Tyler Anderson (4-4, 2.72) has the starting assignment for the Angels. He surrendered one run on a season-low two hits and two walks with four strikeouts over seven innings in a 9-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday. The seven innings matched a season high for Anderson, who logged that many frames in three different starts last month.

Anderson is 0-2 with a 7.34 ERA over seven career starts against the Astros. He finished 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA over two starts against Houston last season.

Three different Angels relievers were tagged for runs in the loss on Tuesday: right-handers Carson Fulmer, Luis Garcia and closer Carlos Estevez, who surrendered the walk-off single to Jeremy Pena in the 10th.

Angels manager Ron Washington noted the challenge of pitching to the first five batters in the Houston lineup, with three of those hitters — Tucker, Pena and Yordan Alvarez — each producing two-hit games while also combining for five runs, four RBIs and two walks.

“We had the people in there that we wanted toward the end of the game,” Washington said. “They (the Astros) fought, and they won it.”

–Field Level Media