Houston star Altuve hopes to keep rolling
HOUSTON — Jose Altuve hit .346 to win the American League batting title for the second year in a row before batting .533 in the AL Division Series to help the Houston Astros eliminate the BostonRed Sox.
As Houston prepares to play host to the New York Yankees Friday night in Game 1 of its first league championship series since 2005,Altuve’s teammates and coaches say what’s better than his gaudy numbers is his approach: No matter how great his stats are, he always believeshe can do better.
“He has four hits and he’s like: ‘Carlos, I never had a five-hit game before, let me try to get the fifth hit,’ ” star shortstop Carlos Correa said. “He’s always striving for more.”
Altuve isn’t sure why he’s always had that mindset. It could stem from years ago when many doubted that someone who is only 5-foot-6 could make it in the majors. But he won’t admit that now.
“That’s the way I am,” he said when asked about his drive. “I just want to keep getting better … if I can get better to keep helping my team I am going to be happy to do it.”
Altuve is one of the longest-tenured players on this team and among a handful who were around for the really bleak times when the Astroslost 100 or more games in three consecutive seasons from 2011-13. He was a major reason the Astros returned to the postseason after a 10-year absence in 2015. But he didn’t have a great performance in thoseplayoffs when he batted just .154 without an extrabase hit as Houston was eliminated by eventual champion KansasCity in the ALDS.
Things have been much different this time around with Altuve carrying his big hitting in the regular season into the playoffs with eight hits in the ALDS. He starred in Houston’s Game 1 win against Boston when he became just the 10th player in major league history and first since 2012 to hit three homers in a playoff game. But the All-Star second baseman insists that he isn’t thinking about any of the numbers that he’s put up so far.
“The five-whatever I hit last series is already gone,” he said. “It doesn’t count for this series. So if someone asks me what is your batting average right now I would say: ‘It’s zero.’ I haven’t got a hit in the next series so that’s theway I think right now.”