Big shoes to fill: Altuve pays tribute to Junior

Astros star hits two homers, has six RBIs wearing white cleats

July 24th, 2016

HOUSTON -- On Sunday afternoon, paid tribute to Ken Griffey Jr.'s Hall of Fame induction by donning white spikes. And the All-Star second baseman looked a whole lot like the Hall of Famer in the Astros' 13-3 rout of the Angels.

When asked if he felt like Griffey Jr. after scorching two home runs and notching a career-high six RBIs in the win, Altuve was a little coy.

"Maybe," Altuve joked.

Altuve's three hits on Sunday marked his 15th three-hit game of the season, which is the third-most in the Majors. It was another impressive outing for the American League MVP candidate, who leads the AL in batting average (.360), hits (139), OBP (.428) and steals (25).

"There were a lot of white spikes out on the field," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "[Altuve] had the best game with them on."

Altuve, whose 5-foot-6 stature is reminiscent of the diminutive Hack Wilson -- who hit more than 20 homers in six of his 12 seasons in the 1920s and '30s -- than the 6-foot-3 Griffey Jr., helped score the first of many runs for the Astros, knocking a three-run homer in the bottom of the first to put Houston up 3-0 early. That dinger was Altuve's 16th of the season, a career-high.

Until the next inning, that is.

The second baseman hit a two-run shot in the second, his 17th of the year, to the Crawford Boxes, giving the Astros an 8-0 lead. Just like that, Altuve had more RBIs (5) in a single game than he'd ever had.

"The guys in front of and behind me like Carlos [Correa], George [Springer], Marwin [Gonzalez]," Altuve said, "they're making my job a little easier. It's really tough to face a hitter when you have Correa behind and Springer on base every time. It's fun, man."

And he wasn't even done.

Altuve struck once again in the fifth, plating Springer with a single to put the Astros up, 11-1.

Basically, he looked a lot like "Junior."

"Best player of all time for me," Altuve said of Griffey. "He was a great player. He played the game the right way. Feel really happy for him."

Even though he might not be willing to admit it, Altuve is playing like one of the best players in baseball right now.

"He is," Correa said of Altuve. "He can steal bases, he can play good [defense], he's a Gold Glover, Silver Slugger, batting champion. He's probably going to be the MVP this year, and for me, he is."

Perhaps Altuve will one day join "The Kid" in Cooperstown.

"The guy is a joke," Springer said. "He's up there playing Xbox. It's something special to watch, and I'm glad he's on our team."