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Altuve providing spark from leadoff spot in lineup

HOUSTON -- For the first time in seven games, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was back in his comfort zone on Sunday.

Altuve was the leadoff batter for the series finale against Seattle, and it's the spot where he's been most prolific.

Entering Sunday's game, Altuve leads the American League with a .375 on-base percentage (minimum 25 games) from the No. 1 spot. That's better than stalwarts like Jacoby Ellsbury and Ian Kinsler. He's also batting .323 (43-for-133) from the top spot in the order.

"I actually wish I could hit him one through nine, but they won't let me do that," manager Bo Porter joked. "He's going to hit one or two. It all depends on who else is in the lineup. A lot of time it has to do with the other eight guys as to where he'll hit."

Jake Elmore and Carlos Pena rotated in the leadoff spot over the last six games as Porter tinkered with the lineup going into and out of the All-Star break.

Pena's three games batting first made it seven Astros who have been the leadoff hitter this year. That's emblematic of Houston's revolving-door lineup this season, as only Altuve's and Jason Castro's slots have been fairly consistent.

"We don't have a set lineup, because we don't have enough players on our team that have established themselves as everyday Major League players that can hit at a particular spot regardless of the pitcher," Porter said. "It will continue to be a fluid situation."

Altuve has said he embraces the leadoff role, but doesn't pay much attention to it once he reaches the batter's box.

The rise back to the leadoff spot meant Brett Wallace was back as the No. 2 hitter, with Porter trying to get Wallace into more RBI situations due to the lefty's hot bat of late.

Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for
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