HOUSTON -- In a loss as demoralizing as Tuesday night's 3-2 heartbreaker to the Rangers, it's probably hard for the Astros to take away many positives. If there was going to be one, though, it's that American League MVP candidate Jose Altuve has seemingly busted his slump.
Altuve went 3-for-4 against the Rangers, notching two singles and a game-tying home run in his first three-hit game since Aug. 19. It was Altuve's 100th career game with three or more hits, which is the most in baseball since his debut in 2011.
"Jose comes to the ballpark every day with a chance to have this type of game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously, the numbers will tell you, he was due, but we've seen this type of game 50 times it feels like this year. You don't get 200 hits by accident."
Entering Tuesday, Altuve had been in the midst of a cold spell that dropped his batting average from .366 to .337 in less than a month. He was hitting .178 in September and needed something to break his way.
And it did.
Altuve opened his night with the first hit of the game, a single off A.J. Griffin's 67.9 mph curveball.
"His body control was exceptional," Hinch said.
He followed the single up with a huge game-tying home run in the top of the fourth. The solo shot -- Altuve's 24th homer of the season -- went a projected 423 feet into the Crawford Boxes, according to Statcast™.
Altuve's 24 home runs this season are the third-most in Astros history for a second baseman, behind only Jeff Kent's 27 in 2004 and Craig Biggio's 26 in 2005.
The 26-year-old registered his third hit of the night in the top of the sixth, but the single went along with a bit of bad luck. After Altuve's ball deflected off Jurickson Profar's glove, his spikes got caught in the dirt as he rounded first, causing him to fall and eventually be tagged out.
In his last at-bat in the bottom of the ninth, Altuve flied out to center field on a line drive that ended the game, but Hinch said Altuve hit it "right on the nose."
Still, with the Astros 4 1/2 games back of an American League Wild Card spot and desperate to get some magic going down the stretch for a shot at the postseason, a surging Altuve could be the difference.
"If the tide's turning," Hinch said, "we'll take a hot Altuve for the next [17 games]."
Jordan Ray is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.