NEW YORK -- The fans at Yankee Stadium let Astros second baseman Jose Altuve have it during this weekend's four-game series in the Bronx. The jeers were loud every time he came to the plate.
The fans didn’t let him forget that he was on the team that was part of the sign-stealing scandal that accompanied the Astros' World Series title in 2017. After all, the Astros had beaten the Bronx Bombers in the American League Championship Series to advance to the Fall Classic that year.
But the jeers had little effect on Altuve. In fact, the crowd may have motivated him to a higher level of concentration. Altuve went 5-for-14 (.357) with two home runs, including a leadoff shot in Sunday's 6-3 loss. It was obvious that he was the igniter that helped Houston split the four-game series.
“You put yourself in that position, that’s obviously a difficult thing, but he thrives on being in big spots. He has done it his whole career,” teammate Jason Castro said. “He has come up big for this organization. That’s why he is who he is.”
Asked why he didn’t let the fans get to him, Altuve simply said the Astros come first every time he is on the field. He even credited Yankees fans for supporting their hometown team.
"They really get into the game. That’s the kind of people that they are,” Altuve said. “I do my best to focus on the game every day, no matter who we are playing. We have a good group of guys that deserve my full concentration in the game. I try to help them to win. That’s what I do no matter who we play.”
The New York fans can’t take away what Altuve has accomplished during his 12-year career. He is a seven-time All-Star, he's won three AL batting titles and an AL MVP Award in 2017. The biggest hit of his career may have been in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS when he hit the game-winning home run to eliminate the Yankees and send the Astros to the World Series against the Nationals.
“His bat-to-ball skills are incredible,” Castro said. “I've played with him for a long time. There aren’t too many guys around the game that have been as good as he is, just having a feel for hitting the ball where [the defenders aren’t]. He has a good approach when goes up to the plate. It doesn’t matter who is on the mound. When he is up there, something good most likely is going to happen.”
Altuve acknowledged that playing the Yankees this weekend had that playoff atmosphere. It didn’t feel like a regular-season series in June.
“There were good games for both teams,” Altuve said. "There was a lot of energy, a lot of intensity from the first game to the last run of [the fourth game]. We played [well]. They played [well]. … We played 100% every single inning. We did everything we could. I’m happy with the way we played.”