SEATTLE -- With the potential tying run at second base and no outs in the ninth inning, you don't want perhaps the best hitter in the Major Leagues bunting. José Altuve knows that, and in retrospect he admitted his unsuccessful bunt attempt in the Astros' 1-0 loss to the Mariners
SEATTLE -- With the potential tying run at second base and no outs in the ninth inning, you don't want perhaps the best hitter in the Major Leagues bunting. José Altuve knows that, and in retrospect he admitted his unsuccessful bunt attempt in the Astros' 1-0 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field on Saturday was a rare misstep.
Marwin Gonzalez led off the ninth with a double against Mariners closer Steve Cishek, and Altuve opted to bunt -- it wasn't called by manager A.J. Hinch -- and hit one right back at the mound. Gonzalez was tagged out between second and third, while Altuve slipped to second during the rundown. He was at third two pitches later, but left an RBI opportunity on the board by not swinging.
"I forgot I was hitting third in that situation," said Altuve, the Astros' No. 3-hole hitter. "I was thinking about, 'We need that run.' I wasn't thinking about winning the game in the inning. I wanted to put Marwin on third with less than two outs for Carlos [Correa], and I feel like I have to swing the bat right there."
Altuve promptly stole a base to put him at third with one out -- the same result he would have achieved had he bunted successfully -- but Correa struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch and Luis Valbuena looked at a 3-2 pitch for a strike to end the game and strand Altuve at third. The Astros were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"Having Altuve at second, he stole third and created a little bit of pressure for them," Hinch said. "But ultimately, right-handed hitters against Cishek, it's a very difficult at-bat for them. So obviously, Correa works to a 3-1 count and ends up striking out, and Valbuena works it to a near walk and he landed a pitch on 3-2. He's their closer for a reason. He closed that one-run game, they win."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.