Altuve's aggressiveness pays dividends for Astros
Second baseman finishes with career-high 5 RBIs
HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve set a career high with five RBIs in Tuesday's 10-5 win against the Angels, beating his year-old record by one.
It was one he had to will to the plate.
Down 5-4 in the fourth inning of what had already become a game of aggressive at-bats, devoid of pitching, Altuve stroked his second two-out single in as many plate appearances up the middle.
Hank Conger easily scored from second thanks to an unwise cut-off of Daniel Robertson's throw. Altuve made a wide turn at first, as the speedy Jake Marisnick rounded second.
Then Altuve waved Marisnick around.
"I kind of stumbled and was like 'Come on, let's get around,'" Altuve said.
Marisnick scored without a throw while Altuve stayed in the rundown as long as possible, giving Houston a 6-5 lead it wouldn't relinquish in the first of a pivotal three-game set in a tight American League West race.
"As soon as I turned around and the first baseman caught the ball I knew I was going to be out," Altuve said. "So I was like 'OK, now try to go.' I think that was a big run for us in that inning. He runs hard all the way to third base, realized, and kicked in. I think he did a really really a good job."
Said Marisnick of Altuve's extra encouragement. "I saw him. That was a good play by him, staying in the rundown, drew the throw. Just seeing the trajectory of it, he kind of lobbed it, so I didn't think they were going to have a shot at home."
A similar scenario played out in the second inning, when Erick Aybar misplayed Altuve's grounder in the hole. Conger, churning from second, scored without a throw due in part to Altuve aggressively going for second and drawing a throw.
Though Altuve was thrown out, Conger slid in before the out was made, tying the game.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch is often peppered with questions about the aggression -- normally when runners are cut down at the plate or when extra bases are taken in crunch time -- and he's largely unapologetic about it. He enjoys the pressure it puts on opponents and insists it's the way his club will continue to play.
"Being able to score on that type of play, our speed is pretty good," Hinch said. "Jake has been electrifying on the bases when we get him on there. Obviously Altuve gets in the rundown and stays in it long enough; they misplayed it a little bit which is uncharacteristic for their team. ... They seemed to put pressure on us, we put pressure on them, and we broke it open with some really big hits. I'm really happy about that."
Marisnick agrees with his skipper's philosophy on the basepaths.
"We were doing it more early in the season and trying to get back to that," Marisnick added of the aggression on the basepaths. "It's just another aspect of our offense that helps us score runs. The more we can get back to that the better our offense is going to be."