Altuve bolsters All-Star hopes with bat, legs

Astros second baseman goes 3-for-4, swipes pair and scores three runs in victory

Altuve bolsters All-Star hopes with bat, legs

HOUSTON -- Entering Thursday's game at Minute Maid Park, the Yankees had allowed only 22 stolen bases -- the fewest of any American League team.

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Not that it would deter the Astros or their healthy All-Star hopeful Jose Altuve, who stole two bases in Houston's 4-0 victory.

Altuve, who has an AL-leading 20 steals this season, also had three hits and scored three times to ignite the offense and provide insurance for ace Dallas Keuchel, who struck out 12 in a six-hit shutout.

"I've been striking out a lot lately and that's not my game. I need to put the ball in play and get on base so I can help my team win," Altuve said. "That's part of my game against everyone. Try to get on base, get to the next base. We knew we only needed a couple runs to win the game."

Altuve showed no ill-effects of the strained hamstring that sidelined him for seven games, beating out an infield single in the sixth that led to his first stolen base, then swiping third in the eighth with the Astros still nursing a three-run lead.

According to Statcast™, Altuve hit a top speed of 22.25 mph on that sixth-inning single. When he stole second, his top speed was 21.36 mph.

In both instances, cleanup man Evan Gattis notched RBI hits to drive in his speedy teammate.

Gattis' RBI double

"Just being a catalyst," Gattis said of Altuve. "He gets on first and next thing you know he could be on second or third. Really presses their hand. He's a big part of this team, no doubt."

On a night where the offense mustered only seven hits and four one-run innings, Altuve provided the spark that manager A.J. Hinch said was sorely missing when the second baseman was out.

"Getting a couple hits, seeing him fly around the bases, he's playing with a little bounce in his step," Hinch said. "We missed him when he was out, I think he missed playing while he was out. That kind of boost is certainly going to be nice in the middle of our order."

Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.