Did Altuve slide into All-Star lead?
HOUSTON -- Many viewed Wednesday night's 6-5 win over the Royals as Jose Altuve's final audition to start the All-Star Game at second base for the American League as fan voting draws to a close on Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT.
Except Altuve himself.
"We won the game," Altuve said bluntly. "You just want to win the game. When they say the All-Star Game we'll talk about it, but like I said, my priority right now is to keep playing for my guys and keep playing really good."
For those that did view it as an audition, Altuve stole the role. He was 3-for-4 with three singles -- his seventh three-hit game of the season -- stole two bases and scored the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice from Chris Carter in the seventh.
Altuve, on base for a fourth time in the seventh after he was plunked with a 98-mph fastball by Kelvin Herrera, swiped second base for his AL-leading 23rd steal of the season and advanced to third on a tough-luck comebacker from Evan Gattis that could have been an RBI single had it not hit off Herrera.
Carter followed with a bouncing ball toward short. Altuve broke on contact and slid in safely, just beating a tag from Salvador Perez that initiated a review that ruled the safe call as stands.
"I knew it was a close play," Altuve said. "With those plays you never know if you are safe or not. But I was hoping to be safe because I know our bullpen is really good and I think that run will be enough to win the game."
"That's complete baseball," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think that's part of what this team is learning it can do consistently."
Altuve trailed Omar Infante by 231,708 votes in the latest ballot update on Monday, though comparing the series between the two is one-sided. Altuve went 5-for-11 in the three-game sweep, notching an RBI in each game, while Infante limped to a 1-for-11 clip -- his only hit a grounder that deflected off Dallas Keuchel on Tuesday for an infield single.
As he's always done when asked about his All-Star Game thoughts, Altuve deflected all of the talk to his team. The sweep of the defending AL champion Royals was the first by the Astros over Kansas City at Minute Maid Park, and Altuve said the energy it created can only carry over.