BOSTON -- Early in his career, Jose Altuve could drive the ball to all fields and then wreak havoc on the bases with his legs. As the years and accolades piled up, Altuve became more of a pull hitter who developed serious power. So it was only a matter of time before he was able to pull all his tools together for one unforgettable night.
Only two weeks after becoming the third Astros player in history to reach 2,000 career hits, Altuve recorded the franchise’s first cycle -- a single, double, triple and home run in the same game -- in 10 years in Houston’s 13-5 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Altuve doubled in his second at-bat in the third inning, singled in the fifth inning and hit a two-run triple in the sixth. After popping out in the seventh, he blasted his 10th homer of the season, sailing a pitch from Kyle Barraclough over the Green Monster to complete the cycle. It was Houston’s first cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013.
“I was aware that I needed a homer, but I wasn’t really trying to change my whole approach,” Altuve said. “I was thinking about getting a pitch and trying to drive it.”
Altuve went 4-for-6, scored four times, drove in a season-high-tying four runs and tied a career high with four hits. Led by Altuve, the Astros bashed out 18 hits -- one day after getting 25 hits in Detroit -- to set a franchise record for most hits (57) in a three-game span.
“That’s the first cycle I’ve seen in a long time,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We were all pulling for him that at-bat before when he popped the ball up. Boy, that’s the first cycle we had in 10 years. It’s great to score runs.”
More than 2,500 miles away, a retired Barnes was at home in Meridian, Idaho, when he got a random message from an Astros fan via Instagram informing him that Altuve had hit for the cycle. Considering Barnes came up through the Houston system with Altuve and played with him early in his career, he was thrilled.
“To say I had [a cycle] before him blows my mind,” Barnes told MLB.com. “I was a platoon player. Pretty special. I couldn't be more happy for him and his family and the whole situation because he deserves it.”
Barnes legged out a double at Minute Maid Park for his cycle, becoming the first Houston player to do it in the AL. Altuve started at second base in that game against the Mariners and had two hits.
“I had a great relationship with him and he played hard,” Altuve said. “I saw it, and it’s a cool thing.”
Barnes, a sixth-round pick by the Astros in 2005 whose Major League career consisted of 484 games for the Astros (2012-13), Rockies (2014-16) and Cleveland (’18), played with Altuve at High-A Lancaster in ‘10 and Double-A Corpus Christi in ‘11, and later in the big leagues.
“The kid, at that time, had more grit and grind and hustle and determination than anybody I had ever played with,” Barnes said. “His bat-to-ball skills were insane, and as soon as he figured out the power side of it, it was over. His defense has always been solid. He was just one of those guys who wanted to play baseball, and I think that’s his whole story. He wanted to play baseball and he was going to play as long as he could.”
Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and blasted his first homer since Aug. 6, one that put Houston ahead, 8-4, in the sixth. He scored Altuve, who had tripled two batters prior, but Alvarez had no idea Altuve’s homer secured the cycle until third baseman Alex Bregman told him.
“I just missed the triple,” Alvarez said. “When he hit the triple, I was getting ready to go out there.”
Bregman was also caught by surprise … surprised the cycle was Altuve’s fist.
“I asked him in the dugout afterwards, I was like, ‘Is that your first cycle?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘No freaking way,’” Bregman said. “I thought it was one of multiple that he’s had. I heard it was the first one in 10 years. That’s pretty cool. Not only did he hit for the cycle, but he had some big hits for us today, too, clutch hits to help win the game.”