Altuve's 22nd postseason HR 'means a lot'

Astros' second baseman tied for second on all-time playoff leaderboard

October 29th, 2021

HOUSTON -- On Monday, Astros shortstop answered what he appreciates most about longtime teammate .

“It doesn’t matter if he’s 0-for-4,” Correa said, “he knows in the playoffs that you’re one swing away from giving your team a win.”

Altuve was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night.

He then turned around and gave Houston two big swings in Game 2 on Wednesday night -- including an historic one.

The Astros' second baseman launched a leadoff home run in the seventh inning and climbed up the postseason home run leaderboard in Houston’s 7-2 win over the Braves at Minute Maid Park. As the teams head to Atlanta with the World Series tied at 1, Altuve’s 22nd postseason home run tied him for second all time with Bernie Williams, ranking behind only Manny Ramirez (29).

“To hit 22 homers in the playoffs and tie him -- always every time that my name is mentioned, before it was Derek Jeter, now it's Bernie Williams -- it means a lot to me,” Altuve said. “It makes me keep going out there, hitting homers to help my team, to keep accomplishing things like this. As long as we win, everything's good.”

Altuve had one of the toughest postseason games of his career on Tuesday night. In the 73 postseason games he had played before this year's Fall Classic, he had gone 0-for-5 only twice.

As Altuve stepped to the plate in the first on Wednesday, he had a .178 batting average this postseason. He promptly roped a one-out double off Braves starter Max Fried and opened the game's scoring by coming home on an Alex Bregman sacrifice fly.

“The only answer I have is, for me, the stats [in the] playoffs don't matter because you're winning,” Altuve said. “You can be 0-for-20, but what about if you get the big hit? So that's what the playoffs is about. I don't care I went 0-for-5 [Tuesday] night. I didn't care. I show up [Wednesday], try to get good pitches to hit, and I'm glad that I [helped] my team to win.”

As Correa has tried to instill Altuve’s mindset into himself and other players in the Astros' clubhouse, manager Dusty Baker had a simpler explanation for Altuve’s ability to bounce back after poor offensive nights.

“Well, he's good,” Baker said.

Baker paused, before adding: “When you're good, you've just got to -- I don't know. That's what professionals do. When you know you can play, you have to. I mean, you have no choice. My dad used to tell me, ‘It's OK to get down, just don't stay down.’ So he didn't stay down.”

Nor did Altuve stop after the first inning.

When the Braves brought in Drew Smyly in the seventh, Altuve welcomed the left-hander by crushing an elevated first-pitch fastball to the Crawford Boxes in left field. It was Altuve’s third career World Series game with multiple extra-base hits. The only players with more are George Springer (five), Duke Snider (five), Babe Ruth (five), Lou Gehrig (five), Mickey Mantle (four) and Reggie Jackson (four).

To say the Astros go as Altuve goes would be an oversimplification, but there’s no hiding his impact on this club, especially in October. The 2017 American League MVP Award winner is Houston’s all-time leader in postseason hits (88), runs (66) and home runs (22), and this year, he became the fastest player in MLB history to hit 20 postseason home runs when he went deep in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Red Sox.

So if the Astros are going to bring the World Series title back to Houston, it’s imperative Altuve sets the tone at the top of the lineup.

“He sets a really good example as a teammate,” Astros starter José Urquidy said. “Even when he speaks to us or just watching him play, he sets a really good example, and he transmits really great energy and leadership to the team. So we just try to absorb as much of that as we can from him.”

When Altuve came back into the dugout after going deep in front of a thunderous Minute Maid Park crowd, Baker called out to him and held up two fingers with a grin on his face.

Just a reminder of Altuve’s rank in postseason history.

“He just reminds you of the player you are, why you got here,” Altuve said of Baker. “One thing about him, he gives you a lot of confidence, and that's good coming from a manager. You always want your manager on your side, trusting you, encouraging you to go out there, and that's exactly what he does.”