Culture / Sporting Life

The Bash Brothers — Preston Tucker and Kyle Tucker Hit Three Home Runs on Two Continents in One Long Day

When Smoking Baseballs is the Family Business

BY // 09.18.20

Preston Tucker hit two home runs before his little brother’s day even began on Thursday — such is life when two baseball loving brothers are playing halfway across the world from each. The time change from the Korean Baseball Organization to Houston can be brutal. But a home run challenge is a home run challenge.

In the spirit of little brother one-upmanship, Kyle Tucker could only respond. When he did, it may have just helped save the Houston Astros.

Continuing this strange Astros season in which he’s been the best thing about the team’s offense, Kyle Tucker hit another big game changing blow. Tucker’s two-run homer in the second inning gives the Astros just enough to beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 and survive this three-game series with their playoff position intact.

It also means the Tucker boys hit three home runs in one day in two cities 7,092 miles apart. First, Preston Tucker smacks two, driving in six runs in his Kia team’s 12-2 win over Samsung in Daegu, South Korea. Then, nearly 12 hours later, Kyle Tucker goes deep at Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.

Talk about Bash Brothers.

Anything you can do, I can do. . . on another continent? Of course, Kyle Tucker is most concerned with what’s happening in North America, with the Astros (25-25) building their lead over the Seattle Mariners for the guaranteed second playoff spot out of the American League West to three games.

This 60 game coronavirus Major League Baseball is racing towards a close while the KBO’s full 144 game season plays out. Kyle Tucker knows he only has 10 games left in his breakout regular season. Every chance counts. Every at-bat matters.

A home run that just gets out is more significant than ever.

“It was questionable,” Kyle Tucker says of his Thursday shot to right field. “It landed in like the first row out there.”

Rangers right fielder Joey Gallo could not get it though. And that’s what counts with the games ticking down and the Astros scrounging for runs against a Texas team that is determined to make their lives difficult.

Tucker now has 39 RBI in 48 games for the Astros this season. He is helping keep a wounded dynasty alive. It’s not always easy for the 23-year-old. The home run that jolts the Rangers breaks a 3 for 30 slide for Kyle Tucker.

“It’s frustrating when you’re not doing well and your team isn’t winning games at the time,” Tucker says. “You’ve just got to try and hold it together as long as you can as best as you can. Hopefully, things will turn around.

“And we’ve been winning some games here.”

Just enough games to keep October in sight. With Framber Valdez’s striking out 11 in only 6 1/3 innings in a display of curveball magic, with journeyman left-hander Brooks Raley coming out of the bullpen to get his first career save, with Carlos Correa pulling his usual shortstop wonders, Kyle Tucker’s home run will hold up.

For a young Major Leaguer, a former top prospect who’s been more doubted than most Top 5 picks, that home run amidst the struggles is significant. Tucker almost broke out and ruined high-priced Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson’s complete game shutout with two outs in the ninth the night before. Tucker absolutely scorched Gibson’s last pitch. It came off his bat with a 98.4 MPH exit velocity and carried a .900 expected batting average.

And screamed right into the first baseman’s glove for the 27th out.

So Tucker does it in his first at-bat on Thursday. That’s resilience and sticking with it, traits that Astros manager Dusty Baker wants to see from Kyle Tucker. The veteran manager felt he had to give Tucker a day off recently even though he didn’t really want to remove his bat from the lineup because some mental strain was showing.

“What I told him is, ‘Hey man, I see your frustrating growing,’ ” Baker says. “I think he had torn up his bat in frustration. I told him Hank Aaron told me it’s not your bat’s fault. It’s not your helmet’s fault. And sit down and concentrate on what you got to do and try to pick up the pitcher’s release point.

“It was tough to sit him out. But I had to think about the long run versus the short run.”

The Houston Astros and Texas Rangers played the third game of their series in the final homestand in Minute Maid Park
Kyle Tucker, George Springer and Josh Reddick enjoy a little outfield party. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

Whether Tucker’s brief benching helped or not, his swing on Thursday night ruined any visions former Astros (and current Rangers) pitcher Jordan Lyles had of playing Houston spoiler. For the second straight night, a Rangers pitcher who came into Minute Maid struggling monumentally pitched the game of his year.

This time, Kyle Tucker finds a way to get one out, though. The same day his 30-year-old big brother Preston Tucker, a former Astro himself, wallops two in Korea.

Two brothers. Three home runs. Two different leagues. Two different continents. South Korea is 14 hours ahead of Houston.

Some home runs really travel.

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