A Houston Legend

Jose Freaking Altuve.

Jim Rome
October 21, 2019 - 11:01 am
Jose Altuve

USA Today

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We have ourselves a World Series. Nationals v. Astros, tomorrow night. And the matchup nobody saw coming came about in the most perfect way possible.

Since the last time I was on the air, the Astros took a 3-1 series lead after winning Game 4 in New York. Then lost Game 5 and went back home for Game 6.

And they started out Game 6 by jumping all over the Yankees with a 3-run homer in the first inning.

3-0 Astros in the first inning and that joint was rocking. At that point, you weren’t expecting a game, you were expecting a coronation and a party. The Yankees would fold and the Astros would run away with it and be popping champagne in a matter of hours.

But that’s not what happened. Because New York wouldn’t go away. They made it 3-1 in the second inning and 3-2 in the fourth.

Then Houston went to work on defense. There was this from catch from Josh Redick in the sixth.

Then Houston makes it 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth and Michael Brantley comes up huge on defense in the field.

Houston was showing it all. The bats, the gloves, and they had a 4-2 lead in the ninth. Now it was over. They were just three outs away from the party.

Except they weren’t. Because with one on and one out DJ Lemahieu came to the plate.

Tie game. And not only is it a tie game, it felt like the Yankees were winning because they’d ripped momentum, sucked the air out of the yard, and they were sending Aroldis Chapman to the mound in the ninth to take it to extra innings.

And Chapman did what he does. Set down the first two batter with a strikeout and a pop up. And then got ahead 0-1 on George Springer. But then he lost him, throwing four straight balls and walking him.  The last thing you want to do.  Especially with two outs.  And especially given who was in the on-deck circle. 

Because up walks, Jose Altuve. Obviously, there are plenty of guys you don’t want to see in the bottom of the ninth of an elimination game in the ALCS. But Jose Altuve is right at the top of the list.

Just ask DJ Lemahieu: "To be honest. I never feel good when we're on defense and he comes to the plate. But it's not just us, the Yankees. I think every team feels like that."

And with good reason, because on a 2-1 pitch, he did this.

Ball game over. Series over. Yankees season over.  Thanks for coming. 

What an absolute legend. The guy who embodies the Houston Astros doing exactly what you’d expect him to do in that situation.

Which raises the question, if everyone knew that was going to be the result if you pitch to that guy in that situation, why would you pitch to that guy in that situation?

Especially with two outs. And especially with defensive replacement Jake Marisnick in the on-deck circle.

Have that home run ready again.

Because even crazier than pitching to Altuve in that situation was Altuve looking for a 2-1 slider in that situation. That’s a spot where Chapman goes fastball roughly three times out of four. But Altuve was looking slider and he found it.  And he found it, out of over the play.  And then he got rid of it.

As AJ Hinch said after the game: "It's not easy to deliver the way he does. The playoff version of him is spectacular. We talk about his division series homers and then his attention to detail in every facet of the game. He's turned himself into a star in his career here, and yet he's remained humble, he's remained hungry. He's driven. He's engaging with his teammates. It's the same old quote of: Everything that's right about the Astros is Jose Altuve. He's been here the longest and seen this organization grow from the ground up. I'm so proud of him. I'm so fortunate to be his manager."

Listen to that part again: everything that’s right about the Astros is Jose Altuve. That’s about as big a compliment as you can pay someone, especially on a team that’s loaded with Hall of Famers, and All-Stars, and they’re all pointing to Altuve as the man.

And now they’re ready to face the nationals. But not without one final remark for the Yankees. As Carlos Correa said: “It’s a great series. We knew they had a great team. Like they call themselves, they’re savages. But in this jungle called the American League, we’re the apex predator.”

And now the apex predator gets the Washington Nationals. Let’s get it on.  I’m taking the Astros.  I just don’t think it’s the runaway, beatdown that most people are predicting: I have a lot respect for the Nats, their rotation and how they’re playing right now.  A lot of respect.  Just not enough to say they’re going to win this series; because they’re not beating these Astros.  No one is.