PHOENIX -- It was on the final day of the season a year ago that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve talked his way into the lineup and wound up getting a pair of hits to win the American League batting title (.341) and finish the campaign with a club-record 225 hits.
Altuve came to the plate in the ninth inning on Sunday at Chase Field with another individual accomplishment on the line. Sitting at 199 hits, Altuve singled to right field to become the first Astros player in history to have multiple 200-hit seasons. He finished with a .313 average, third in the AL batting race while leading the league in hits.
"What matters right now is we're going to the playoffs," Altuve said after the Astros concluded the regular season with a 5-3 loss to Arizona but had clinched a spot in the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser. "I'm not going to lie to you, it's pretty good to get 200 hits and I wanted to help my team to win. With my last at-bat, the only thing I was thinking was get on base because I know [George] Springer was behind me. Everything happened and we're here."
The Astros will send ace Dallas Keuchel to the mound to face the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka in the Wild Card Game at 7 p.m. CT (on ESPN) Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. The winner will face the defending AL champion Kansas City Royals in a best-of-five AL Division Series beginning Thursday.
Altuve is the seventh player in club history with a 15-homer, 40-double season. He's the third player in club history with back-to-back 40-double seasons, joining Craig Biggio (1993-94, 1998-99, 2003-05) and Jeff Bagwell (1996-97). He hit .332 after the All-Star break.
Altuve is also the second player in Major League history to lead the AL in hits and steals in consecutive seasons, joining Snuffy Stirnweiss of the Yankees (1944-45).