ANAHEIM -- Moments after he was picked off first base following his two-out single in the first inning Sunday afternoon, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve went out to play defense and delivered a message to himself."I said to myself, 'OK, you've got to wake up and start playing baseball,'" he
ANAHEIM -- Moments after he was picked off first base following his two-out single in the first inning Sunday afternoon, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve went out to play defense and delivered a message to himself.
"I said to myself, 'OK, you've got to wake up and start playing baseball,'" he said.
Altuve did just that, socking a three-run homer off Angels starter Matthew Shoemaker in the third inning that put the Astros ahead and sent them on their way to a 5-3 win in the series finale. Altuve went 2-for-4, including his fifth homer of the season.
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"It was good because it ended up winning the game," Altuve said. "This is what it's about; try to win every series. The way this team has been playing is amazing. Everything you can do to keep going and keep winning games and series, you've got to go out there and do it."
Altuve, who was awarded the Astros belt by Josh Reddick for being the game's best player, extended his hitting streak at Angel Stadium to 17 games, dating to June 22, 2015. He leads the American League in road batting average this season at .410.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch held him out of the starting lineup in Saturday's game, and Altuve -- who hates to be out of the lineup -- admitted it helped him.
"I mean, you never know," he said. "I like to play, but if A.J. and [bench coach] Alex [Cora], they think I need another day off, I know they're going to go out there and do it. Everything we do here, we work as a team and we do to help each other, and I appreciate it."
The Astros were trailing 2-0 when they rallied in the third. Alex Bregman doubled to extend his hitting streak to nine games, and George Springer followed with a walk. Reddick's RBI single off the wall scored Bregman, and Altuve followed with a 424-footer to left to put Houston ahead, 4-2. Altuve lined out to shortstop in the sixth on a ball that was 107 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™. That was the hardest-hit ball in the game.
"Sometimes a day off does well for him mentally," Hinch said. "He physically needed it and mentally needed it. He came out of it with Altuve-type things, which is being the best player on the field. The big three-run homer was obviously a huge momentum shift from their dugout to our dugout by taking the lead."
As Altuve packed his bags to head back to Houston with his teammates, the orange wrestling-style belt with an Astros logo plate on the front was tucked away in his equipment bag.
"It seems like every day a different guy has the belt," Altuve said. "That means that every day a different player comes up with the big hit, and that's what I like about this team."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.