If there was one word to describe Drew Locke's return to affiliated baseball, it would be this -- grand.
With the bases loaded with one out in the eighth inning of a one-run ballgame, the 28-year-old hit a grand slam for the second straight night Wednesday to lift Double-A Corpus Christi to a 10-6 win over San Antonio. On Tuesday, Locke hit a slam in the seventh to break a 0-0 deadlock in the Hooks' 6-1 win.
But in his latest at-bat with the bases juiced, the right fielder admitted he wasn't looking to repeat the feat.
"No, we were down one run and I was kind of just hoping to put the ball in play however I could," Locke said. "I was just looking gap to gap or maybe trying to put the ball up the middle. That's the way I approach every at-bat with the bases loaded. You don't want to get too big because that's when you roll the ball over and force a double play."
When he made contact against the 0-1 offering by Missions reliever Matt Lollis, Locke knew he drove in a run. He just didn't believe there would be three more with it.
"Right when I hit it, I thought it was a sacrifice fly," he said. "And I was happy with that because I knew I did my job."
After Wednesday's achievement, the Boston College product is 8-for-21 (.381) with three home runs and 12 RBIs in his first five games with Corpus Christi. He started the year in independent baseball with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League after going unsigned by a Major League organization in the offseason.
"After last season, it was going to be my first year as a free agent, and that kind of had me excited," said Locke, who batted .264 with 11 homers and 58 RBIs for Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2011. "I was hoping some teams would come calling. But no one called. So right there I had to make a decision to stop playing or keep trying. I never stopped believing that I could play, so that kind of made my decision for me."
Locke batted .285 with four homers and 24 RBIs through 40 games for the Skeeters before the phone rang with the Astros on the other end. Houston had suffered damage to its organizational offensive depth with Travis Buck, Marwin Gonzalez , Fernando Martinez and Carlos Lee all on the disabled list.
With corresponding callups from Oklahoma City and Jake Goebbert's addition to the RedHawks, a spot opened up for a new outfielder at Corpus Christi, and the Astros decided to fill that with a familiar face by signing Locke on June 9.
With the move, Locke returned to the place where he batted .338 with 20 homers and 109 RBIs in 2009, but he admits things are a little bit different this time around.
"I don't know many of the players here obviously," he said. "Most of these guys came over from trades since I was last in Corpus, but I do know the coaching staff. Beyond that, being back here has brought back some special memories from 2009."
With the grand slams, Locke seems to be on his way to making some new memories this season, but if he continues to pile up big statistics, he could be making another return to Oklahoma City at some point soon.
"I'm just taking it one at-bat at a time," he said. "If I'm in Corpus, all I can do is put up numbers. I can't control where they send me or when they do it. All I can hope for is that I keep putting numbers, and hopefully someone notices."
Chris Wallace went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and one run scored as the Hooks catcher.
Missions shortstop Jeudy Valdez homered, doubled and drove in two runs.