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Patrick Creighton: Kyle Tucker will be an Astro soon

Kyle Tucker should be back in an Astros uniform soon. Rich Schultz

A big groan just came over the crowd the Minute Maid Park.  Kyle Tucker had just slashed a two-seamer down the left field line that just missed staying fair. On the first pitch he saw, he came a foot from giving the Astros the lead.

Back to the box, the Astros top hitting prospect tried again.  Down 0-1, he got a curve, and he annihilated it.

The second pitch Kyle Tucker saw, he deposited 335 feet into the right field seats for a grand slam that send the announced crowd of 20,276 into exaltation.

It was the only at bat Tucker would get on Monday night, and it wasn’t the biggest bright spot of his spring training, just the cherry on top of a torrid spring where he is currently hitting a ridiculous .439 with 5 HR and 21 RBI in merely 41 AB.  The 21 RBI lead all of baseball this spring. He’s scored 13 runs, and posted a video game style 1.345 OPS. His bat has spoken loud and clear to Jeff Luhnow and the Astros:

“I’ll be back.”

(Did you read that in your Arnold voice?  Did you just re-read it in your Arnold voice?  Of course you did).

Tucker has served notice to the big league team that he is ready to go.  He has also served notice directly to Derek Fisher that if Fisher doesn’t hit, he’s going to sit, because Kyle is coming for that job.

The Astros have a history of being patient with their call ups.  Under the current administration, Houston has been very wary of Super 2 deadlines, and waiting to call a player up until after they feel it’s safe that the player will not achieve Super 2 status.  That is likely the only reason we will have to wait until mid-June or later to see Tucker in an Astros uniform, barring major injury. While a September call-up may have been the plan before spring started, his performance has clearly accelerated that timetable.

What Tucker is done is exactly why I wrote back on Feb. 12 that there was no chance Tucker was being traded (certainly not for J.T. Realmuto!).  Jeff Luhnow knew exactly what he has in Tucker, which is a franchise caliber corner outfielder. Luhnow exercised the same strategy in how he approached teams asking for Tucker as he did last season when teams asked for Alex Bregman in trade – by telling GMs they had no chance.

Last season Luhnow made it a point that no matter what, Bregman would be an Astro.  Tucker will also be an Astro, and after this spring, much sooner than later.

The Astros are an embarrassment of riches offensively, and Tucker is a pile of gold being kept in the safe until needed.

Kyle Tucker knew March 18 he wasn’t making the Opening Day roster.  If he continues to rake at Triple-A even close to the way he has in Spring Training, he could very well be in the starting lineup by the All Star Break.

The “Fresno Watch”’ will be underway very quickly this season.

See you soon, Kyle.

Patrick Creighton hosts “Nate & Creight” Mon-Fri 1-3p on SportsMap 94.1FM, and “Sports & Shenanigans” Sundays 12-5p CT on SB Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

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Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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