Altuve passes Biggio with club-record 211th hit

Second baseman vaults Astros great for Houston's single-season mark

Altuve passes Biggio with club-record 211th hit

HOUSTON -- The first thing Jose Altuve did when he reached second base following his record-tying 210th hit of the season in the fifth inning Tuesday was pay some respect to the man whose name was now alongside his atop the Astros' single-season hit chart.

Altuve tipped his batting helmet in the direction of Craig Biggio, and two innings later moved past him and alone into first place on the club's single-season hits chart with his 211th of the year -- a single to center in the seventh inning. It was the culmination of an improbable and amazing season for the pint-sized second baseman who has a knack for putting the bat on the ball.

"I have to go out there and play and finish the season strong," Altuve said. "We need to win a couple of more games to put ourselves in a good position, so it was good to get the 211th so people can stop talking about that and let's go out there and play."

Altuve became the first Astros player to record multiple hits in six consecutive games since Hunter Pence in 2011 by going 2-for-5 to raise his batting average to .343 and move closer to becoming the first player in franchise history to win a batting title.

"It's special for everybody, and for me because I've known Jose for a long time and I saw him start at the beginning," said interim manager Tom Lawless, a former Minor League instructor with the Astros. "For me to witness that tonight is very special. I won't forget the night tonight. And I know he won't forget it. You may be in the game for the next 20 years and not see this again. That's how special it is."

The 5-foot-6 second baseman leads the Majors in hits and batting average, and leads the American League in stolen bases. He has 64 multi-hit games, which is a franchise record, and is only one of four players in history to have at least 211 hits, 43 doubles and 52 steals in a season since 1900.

"I know people are kind of surprised for my season, and I am, too," Altuve said. "I prepared myself every day and am working really hard. I'm not trying to overdo something, just do what I know to do. I don't want to waste any at-bats and fight every single at-bat, and that's been the key this year."

Altuve went 0-for-2 in his first two at-bats against Indians pitcher Corey Kluber before tying Biggio in the fifth inning with a double to left field. While Altuve saluted Biggio, the crowd and his teammates gave him a standing ovation.

"That's the best feeling in my life, when you see your teammates supporting you that way," Altuve said. "That made me feel complete. I'm going outside and playing 100 percent to give them everything I have to try to do everything to win the game. When I get the hits and they react like that -- the teammates, the coaches and fans -- that made me feel complete and really happy."

Altuve didn't stop there.

The crowd rose to its feet when he came to the plate in the seventh, and roared when he smacked the first pitch up the middle for hit No. 211. Another standing ovation followed, even with some of the Indians getting into the act.

Kluber backed off the mound after the record breaker.

"That's a big accomplishment for him to have more hits than anybody in the history of that franchise," Kluber said. "You let him enjoy that."

"It's fun to be a part," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "There was a pretty good chance it was going to happen. I think it was pretty fitting the way it happened tonight, another multi-hit game. Everyone was excited for him and pulling for him the dugout, not only to tie it but to beat it. And obviously he didn't disappoint."

Biggio later pulled Altuve aside and extended his congratulations in person.

"He said 'Congratulations, keep swinging,'" Altuve said. "That means a lot coming from him. That means he was watching the game. He came early to BP and said, 'Hey, two more. Let's go get it.' He was encouraging me to get it, and that made my day. It was really fun."

Now that he's on the cusp of a batting title, Altuve's focus hasn't changed from what he was focused on this offseason.

"I went to the offseason with a mindset to work hard to try to put myself in 100-percent shape to come into the season and help my team," he said. "We're having a good season, everyone is playing hard. This is the first time I didn't play winter ball.

"This is Sept. [16] and I feel at least 98 percent of my abilities. It's good I didn't take that time off to waste the time. I took it to work hard and I'm going to do the same this offseason because I know we can be in the playoffs, and I'm going to do everything I can to make that happen."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.