Buck carving niche as pinch-hitter in Houston

Buck carving niche as pinch-hitter in Houston

MIAMI -- Astros outfielder Travis Buck, who had a clutch pinch-hit single in the Astros' four-run, ninth-inning rally Saturday, has adapted quite well to the role of pinch-hitter. Buck, playing in the National League for the first time in his career, has developed a routine that works for him.

"In the fourth or fifth inning, I go up and take some swings in the cage every inning we're on defense, and by watching some video of guys we could possibly face, I definitely feel comfortable," he said. "As a pinch-hitter, you have to have the aggressive mentality, because the majority of the time it's going to be our only at-bat. It definitely works in my favor, and so far, I've had a little bit of success."

Buck had a walk, single, double and triple in his five pinch-hit appearances prior to Sunday, and he is 6-for-20 in his career as a pinch-hitter, which he didn't do much of while playing in the American League the first five years of his career.

Buck has leaned heavily on Astros third-base coach Dave Clark, a good pinch-hitter in his own right, for advice on how to do the job.

"The more guys you can pick their brains about what made them successful as a pinch-hitter, the better," Buck said. "This is the first time I've been in the National League. The best thing about it is if you're not starting, you're going to get a chance to play every day. It's definitely a place where I feel most comfortable right now and have had a little bit of success."

Houston's win Saturday marked the second time in the last 29 years that the Astros won a road game in which they trailed by three or more runs in the ninth inning (also accomplished at Pittsburgh in 2006).