Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are having very different seasons. And Altuve's greatness for the Houston Astros is unmistakable. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve still swings a big stick for the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena is often a study in determination. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Mauricio Dubon are part of a tight-knit group. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman knows his team is in for a dogfight in the division this season. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Things haven't gone exactly as planned for Carlos Correa in Minnesota. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
J.P. France has shown some strikeout stuff. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve's grand slam delighted his Houston Astros teammates. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
The home runs and big moments have come anything but easy for Jose Abreu with the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve still can change a game with one swing. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is a steady hand who builds confidence in his players. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros closer Ryan Pressly is usually one of the surest things in baseball. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Carlos Correa is still doing his best to lead a Minnesota Twins team that doesn't know a lot about winning. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve has come off the injured list hitting for these Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros pitcher J.P. France knows he has a rare chance on this dynastic team. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Memorial Day brought scenes of remembrance to Minute Maid Park. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve remains a difference maker in Year 13. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve will be lifelong friends. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Carlos Correa is trying to right a nightmarish start of the season with the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
The Houston Astros are in desperate need of innings from guys like J.P. France. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Carlos Correa sometimes seems awfully alone with the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve is still the heart and soul of these Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jose Altuve is still hitting big home runs for these Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros fans still turn out in force at Minute Maid Park. For good reason. Jose Altuve and Co. remain the best show in town. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Carlos Correa is finding out that life is not as sweet out of the Astros' winning cocoon. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Mauricio Dubon is more than just a one-time hitting streak to this Houston Astros team. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Hector Neris is an important bullpen arm for these retooled Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros closer Ryan Pressly relishes the pressure of the ninth inning. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jeremy Pena and Jose Altuve are getting used to having postgame celebrations together. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Hector Neris has closer stuff for the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Mauricio Dubon is getting plenty of love from the Minute Maid Park crowds — and making the most of his opportunity. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Ryan Pressly appreciates every save he gets for the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Young Astros fans are getting to see the golden age of the franchise. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
It looks like another jolt of Houston Astros’ magic, of Jose Altuve magic. And it sure as hell sounds like it. This is the loudest Minute Maid Park has been since Yordan Alvarez crushed that ball over the concrete wall in centerfield in Game 6 of the World Series. Altuve turns a game completely upside down, sending a 99 MPH fastball into the Crawford Boxes, transforming a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 Astros lead with one swing. It is a reminder of what Jose Altuve can still do when he’s healthy, a call back to just how much he means to Houston’s modern day baseball dynasty.
Altuve’s grand slam does not hold up. The Astros end up losing 7-5 in 10 innings when the usually surefire Ryan Pressly can’t hold the lead in the ninth inning and the often dominant Bryan Abreu can’t keep the Minnesota Twins at bay in the 10th. Instead of one of those magical Minute Maid Park comebacks powered by Jose Altuve, the Astros lose 7-5 on a Memorial Day Monday when the Texas Rangers win again and push their lead in the American League West back to three games.
It is a reminder that the magic may not be surefire this season, that the Astros could have to fight to make the playoffs like they really haven’t had to since 2016 (when they actually missed the postseason). The Astros may not have left themselves as vulnerable as Cousin Greg at the end of Succession, but October is no guaranteed sure thing in 2023.
That reality — which many Astros fans will find hard to accept — shouldn’t obscure what Altuve has done, though.
In just eight games back from the injured list, the 33-year-old Altuve has proven that he’s still a giant difference maker for this team. Altuve already has two home runs, six RBI and a 1.090 OPS and the Astros are 6-2 in his eight games. Jose Altuve doesn’t slow down. He just pushes the Astros on to more winning.
While doing everything humanly possible to not make it at all about him. In fact, Altuve would must rather talk about that Astros crowd — another jumping sellout in a season where monsters crowds have almost been the norm in this special downtown Houston ballpark — than the notion that his swing set everything off.
“Obviously, it’s really loud,” Altuve says. “Our fans get into the game a lot. They always do. They like these kind of games. You know, we didn’t win. But tomorrow’s another day.”
Altuve came back ready to hit, ready to help push his team along. And maybe, it’s a reminder to everyone else (not that Astros fans should need it), just how special and rare a player he truly is. Don’t you dare take Jose Altuve for granted.
Jose Altuve always keeps it positive. It’s part of his leadership gift. Along with trying to deflect any bit of personal praise. But no one should take the All-Time Greatest Astro for granted. Every Altuve moment, every bit of magic, should be treasured. Because even a Hall of Fame player like Altuve only gets so many of them.
“Boy, that was a big home run Altuve hit and we were hoping to get some more,” Astros manager Dusty Baker says.
The Astros don’t get any more runs on this night. But Jose Altuve always seems to be giving Houston more moments. More times when he makes everyone want to jump out of their seats. Yes, Yordan Alvarez is a better hitter at this point in their careers. Yordan could end up as one of the single best hitters of all time if he stays healthy.
But Altuve still means so much to these Astros, drives them in so many different ways.
With former Astros star Carlos Correa back in town, mired in a season-long funk in an age 28 season when he should be in his prime, Jose Altuve’s ability to come off the injured list hitting jumps out even more. Astros fans booing Correa is ridiculous — and completely ignorant of this franchise’s evolution. But Twins fans would sure love to have an Altuve right about now.
Everyone would. Players like this come around once a generation. If that. The Minnesota Twins haven’t had one since Kirby Puckett.
Jose Altuve, All-Time Greatest Astro
So enjoy every Jose Altuve moment, even the home runs that come in a disappointing loss. Treasure the rare combination of greatness and a giant heart. Altuve sure seems determined and poised to make up for lost time this season. That wrist seems largely healed, still able to turn on a 99 MPH fastball in a monster spot.
“He’s looking good,” Baker says of his team’s spark igniter. “And for a guy who hasn’t had many at-bats, or (much of a) spring training.”
Altuve came back ready to hit, ready to help power his team along. And maybe, it’s a reminder to everyone else (not that Astros fans should need it), just how special and rare a player he truly is. Don’t you dare take Jose Altuve for granted.
Even in Year 13, more than 700 RBI in, Jose Altuve still can make everyone in a ballpark jump.
“It was good to hit this kind of ball, especially a home run,” he says. “Help your team. I’m still working on getting back to being 100 percent out there.”
Jose Altuve is still working on greatness all these seasons later, still able to lift his Astros with one swing. If that’s not something to appreciate in Houston sports, nothing is.