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Altuve is first in 97 years with stolen-base feat

Astros catalyst is third in modern era with four straight multi-steal games

Altuve is first in 97 years with stolen-base feat

HOUSTON -- For all of Jose Altuve's prolific All-Star credentials at the plate, he's been just as impressive on the basepaths. In fact, impressive is no longer the best word. This is downright historic.

The second baseman swiped two more bags in Sunday's 6-4 win over the Tigers at Minute Maid Park, bolstering his American League-leading total to 36 just over halfway through the season.

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With multiple steals in four straight games, Altuve has the franchise record and leads the league with nine such games this season. He is only the third player in modern Major League history with multiple steals in four straight games, the last being Cleveland's Ray Chapman in 1917.

"That's good to know," Altuve, who is notoriously unconcerned with stats, deadpanned when informed of that feat.

Altuve set another Astros record on Sunday with a stolen base in his sixth straight game, and his season total is already a career high with two weeks still to go before the All-Star break. He's on pace for 70 steals, which would eclipse the club record of 65, tallied by Gerald Young in 1988, and would be the most in the Majors since Jacoby Ellsbury logged 70 in 2009.

"I feel great about my speed out there, and it's got me looking toward the next base more often," Altuve said. "If I see them giving me any room, I'll take it."

His consistency has been a stabilizer for an Astros franchise that is still volatile while it rebuilds to championship form. Altuve has stolen 23 consecutive bases without being caught, dating back to May 12. That's creeping up on the franchise best of 28, set by Carlos Beltran in his remarkable 2004 run. Altuve has done this with a tremendous fielding percentage, .995 with two errors in 376 total chances, and superb durability, starting 78 of the Astros' 83 games this season.

Of course, Altuve is also tops in the AL in hits (116) and batting average (.347). With those numbers, Astros manager Bo Porter is tired of lobbying for a mere All-Star berth. He thinks Altuve deserves consideration for a bigger honor.

"I may be biased, but I think it's warranted," Porter said after Altuve went 4-for-5 in Friday's 4-3 win over Detroit. "If you give me a vote and the season ended today, he's the MVP of the American League."

He didn't back off that statement following Sunday's 3-for-5 performance.

"In my opinion, this guy's the best player in baseball and he's going out and proving it right now," Porter said.

There's no doubt he's been the Astros' MVP. With one day left in June, he's hitting .424 for the month with eight doubles, 16 steals and nine RBIs. In 2014, he has more doubles (25), RBIs (26), stolen bases and runs scored (41) than strikeouts (23), while his on-base percentage is threatening .400.

"I am [playing the best baseball of my career]," he said. "Not just because of the numbers, but I feel great. My body is 100 percent, and we're winning series like this."

Altuve had nine hits, six stolen bases and scored three runs in the Astros' first series win over the Tigers since May 2009. Were it not for a blown save in a 4-3 loss on Saturday, they would have swept the defeding AL champs.

In the latest All-Star Game ballot update, however, Altuve's superlatives still weren't enough, as he still trailed the Tigers' Ian Kinsler, the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia and the Mariners' Robinson Cano for a starting spot at second base. Even if he doesn't win the fan vote, he could still be a manager's selection, players' choice or a Final Vote pick.

"That would mean a lot," said Altuve, who was an All-Star in 2012. "It's incredible to be considered one of the best in the game. At the same time, I don't want to take away from our goals here. I do this for my teammates and for our team. But yeah, it would be fun."

Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 10:59 p.m. CT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.

Altuve's performance during his historic four-game stretch

Vs. Atlanta, June 26
Bottom 1
The hit: Singles to center
The steal: None
The result: Scores from first on a double

Bottom 5
The hit: Singles to center
The steals: Second and third
The result: Scores on home run

Vs. Detroit, June 27
Bottom 1
The hit: Singles to left
The steal: Second
The result: Advances to third on a wild pitch and scores on a throwing error

Bottom 5
The hit: RBI double to center
The steal: Home
The result: Advances to third on an infield hit before stealing home

Vs. Detroit, June 28
Bottom 3
The hit: Infield single to shortstop
The steal: Second
The result: No run

Bottom 5
The hit: Infield single to catcher
The steal: Second
The result: No run

Vs. Detroit, June 29
Bottom 1
The hit: Single to left
The steal: Second
The result: Scores on a double

Bottom 2
The hit: Single to left-center
The steal: Second
The result: No run

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. Associate reporter Mike Vernon contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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