His time?

Astros call up prize prospect Tucker, send Marisnick down

Kyle Tucker will finally be in an Astros uniform. Rich Schultz

The Astros' quest to win a second consecutive World Series might have gotten a significant boost on Saturday.

The team called up prize outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, and sent Jake Marisnick down to Triple-A for the second time this season.

Marisnick had become a polarizing figure for the Astros. He had seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 153 at bats, but hit just .190 and struck out an alarming 69 times. His defense is spectacular, but offensively he has been a serious liability. 

The big story is Tucker, the Astros' most elite prospect since Alex Bregman. After a slow start at Triple A Fresno, Tucker has managed a .306 average, 14 HRs and 66 RBIs in 80 games. He is considered one of the top 20 prospects in all of baseball by most services.

Tucker will play Saturday against the Chicago White Sox.

Tucker was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of high school, and has been a high-end prospect ever since. The Astros have struggled to find a place for him on a team that has the second-most wins in all of baseball. But they finally decided to give him a chance at the big-league level.

If Tucker is ready to produce, it could be the equivalent of adding another big time bat via trade, and help boost an offense that has been very good, if a little short of last year's production. It really is a no-risk proposition. If he does not perform, they have not really lost anything. If he does? They have another key weapon for the stretch run and playoffs. And if he lives up to his potential? He could be a key cog in another World Series run.

Fans have been salivating at the idea of seeing Tucker. They will finally get their chance.

 

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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