BALTIMORE -- It may only be late July, but Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve is making a strong push to bring home his second consecutive American League batting title.In Sunday's 9-7 loss to the Orioles, Altuve -- who is leading the AL with a .358 batting average (Jean Segura
BALTIMORE -- It may only be late July, but Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve is making a strong push to bring home his second consecutive American League batting title.
In Sunday's 9-7 loss to the Orioles, Altuve -- who is leading the AL with a .358 batting average (Jean Segura is second at .332) -- recorded his AL-best 37th multi-hit game and tied a career high with four hits. Belting his 15th home run, a three-run shot that tied the game in the third, he extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
"Every time I see him do something with a three- or four-hit game, got to get the five-hit game eventually. I'm sort of never surprised because he can do so much on the field," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That's why he's our catalyst."
In the three-game set against Baltimore, Altuve hit .500 with a homer and four RBIs, but his success on the road is not uncommon. The second baseman, who has hit safely in 13 straight away from Minute Maid Park, is leading the Majors with a .420 batting average in 44 road games after having the top road average in 2016 at .376. He's batting .303 in 51 home games.
"I don't know. I would like to have an answer for [why I'm more successful on the road]," said Altuve, who finished a triple shy of the cycle Sunday. "As soon as I get home I try to stay with my game and not try to do anything different, but the numbers say I'm way different on the road. I don't really have an answer for that because I have been working really hard to stay with the same approach at home and on the road."
Altuve's success spread down the lineup to Norichika Aoki, who went 3-for-4 and also fell a triple shy of the cycle. Aoki led off the third with a ground-rule double, marking the team's 55th consecutive game with a two-base hit.
"This is a pretty decent lineup. From the one to nine we have good hitters," Altuve said. "Starting from [George Springer] to [whoever] will be the last one in the lineup. We are able to hit homers, doubles, singles, steal the bases, and that's why this lineup is so special."
Altuve has proven to be hot on the road, but has been even hotter in July with a .479 average. He entered Sunday with the second-best July average in the Majors -- trailing only Bryce Harper -- and ranked first in the AL.
"He's a dream scenario for any manager, coach, teammate, you know to be able to play as hard as he does as long as he does," Hinch said of Altuve. "He plays every single day. It's hard to give him a day off. He's remarkable."
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.