Culture / Sporting Life

Jose Altuve Treats a Field-Rushing, Selfie-Seeking Fan With Remarkable Kindness, Alex Bregman Makes the Yankees “Lucky” Talk Look Silly and Aaron Judge Meets Astros Defense

How a Beautiful Night at Minute Maid Park Ended With Houston Holding Another 2-0 Lead Over the Yankees in an ALCS

BY // 10.21.22

When the frantic guy in the vintage Craig Biggio jersey runs onto the Minute Maid Park field and heads right for Jose Altuve, the Houston Astros’ current All-Star second baseman takes it in stride. Altuve doesn’t even seem bothered when the intruder pulls him into a hug. And asks for a selfie during the top of the ninth inning.

The Astros are clinging to a 3-2 lead over the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at the time. And Astros closer Ryan Pressly is waiting to start trying to secure the final three outs.

But Altuve is showing remarkable kindness towards the field crasher, a sense of caring for what very well may be a troubled person that few others would have displayed.

“He kept saying that we’d better win because he’d spent all his money on the ticket,” Altuve says later at his locker. “I said, ‘We will.’ ”

The Astros do, completing that 3-2 win after ballpark security and the Houston police finally get that very persistent selfie seeker, who keeps trying to get back over to Altuve even with the police holding him, off the field. The guy is still screaming for Altuve’s attention when he disappears from view.

This is what the Astros do in October, Handle seemingly anything thrown at them with a grace and aplomb that leaves other teams frustrated, fuming and forgetful. That last one covers Yankees starter Luis Severino who dismisses Alex Bregman’s three run homer into the Crawford Boxes as “lucky.”

Severino has apparently forgotten who Alex Bregman is and what he’s done in October. That three run shot is his 14th playoff home run, all hit since 2017, many coming off some of the best pitchers of this era. And forget any thought about the home run being simply a product of Minute Maid’s dimensions and that short right field. It would have been a home run in 25 of the 30 Major League stadiums.

That home run is just Bregman being Bregman in a big spot.

“That was huge,” Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker says.”Those are our three runs we had for the day. He’s such a good player. He’s been doing this his whole life. He loves the game. Huge hit for him.”

And another huge win for the Astros against the Yankees in the playoffs. With a 2-0 lead in this ALCS, Houston is halfway to eliminating New York in the postseason for the fourth time since 2015. Even Pete Davidson never drove Kanye quite this mad.

The sizable real estate the Astros occupy in the Yankees’ heads is even more valuable than a penthouse in that 432 Park Avenue tower.

On this night, Bregman and Co. build on it with a few big things — Bregman squaring up and launching that 97 MPH Severino fastball high into the Houston night sky and co-ace Framber Valdez getting stronger as the game goes on like Justin Verlander the night before — and a few little things.

Like Yordan Alvarez busting it down the line, running faster than his hulking frame suggests he should be able to, preventing the Yankees from getting a double play would have ended the third inning before Bregman’s home run.

“I was fortunate enough to get that at-bat because Yordan hustled down the line,” Bregman says.

Little things can be big.

Like Kyle Tucker always making sure he knows exactly how many steps he is from the right field wall. This allows the masterful defensive right fielder to track Aaron Judge’s eighth inning blast and jump back knowing his back will hit the wall as he catches it. And somehow makes one of the best defensive plays of these playoffs look almost easy.

Bryan Abreu, the Astros reliever who threw the 88 MPH slider that Judge came so close to least drilling off the wall, with the tying run standing on second, until Tucker did his thing, knows better.

“Man, it just felt amazing,” Abreu tells PaperCity. “There, I just thought the ball was gone and having a great player like Tucker in right field make that play, I just thought we’ve just got to keep fighting. We can’t give up.

“Not after a play like that.”

Abreu then fights to end the inning by striking out the Yankees’ other beyond imposing slugger Giancarlo Stanton after falling down 3-0 in the count. That’s getting a lift — and making it count. That’s what this team does.

On a beyond beautiful night at Minute Maid Park with the roof open (for once thanks to Major League Baseball) and a temperate breeze rustling the uniform pants of the players, the Astros do just enough right.

These Astros are now a perfect 5-0 in these playoffs, having outscored their opponents by only a combined seven runs in those five victories. Altuve, Bregman and Co. just keep winning close game after close game. There are trapeze artists who are less comfortable operating on a razor thing line than these Astros.

“I just think it’s just the feeling we’ve got as a team,” Abreu says. “We’re just always treating each other as a family. Showing caring, love. And every single player — that helps them.”

Houston Astros Framer Valdez pitched 7 innings to win Game Two of the American League Championship Series over the New York Yankees Thursday at Minute Maid Park
Houston Astros this baseman Alex Bregman has a thing for hitting big playoff home runs. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

The only thing that can help the Yankees now is a dominant effort from Game 3 starter Gerrit Cole, who enjoyed the two best seasons of his career while pitching for the Astros, on Saturday evening in the Bronx.

It turns out it’s much better to be an Astro in October, Like usual.

Yankees pitcher Luis Severino has apparently forgotten who Alex Bregman is and what he’s done in October.

Yuli Gurriel’s Last Ride?

Yuli Gurriel, the 38-year-old Cuban first baseman who is one of the Core Astros who’ve been here for every big Astros playoff moment since 2017, finds himself thinking about that a little on this postcard perfect October night. Gurriel has found his hitting time machine in these playoffs, answering a beyond frustrating regular season with a 9 for 22 postseason start.

But Gurriel is in the last year of his contract, facing an uncertain baseball future. On this night, he makes it clear he’d love to remain an Astro. Would love to stay right alongside Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman like usual.

“It’s inevitable to think about that, obviously,” Gurriel says of his impending free agency through an interpreter. “Even right now during the postseason. But hopefully we can finish strong and hopefully, it’s not the last one.”

And if it is Gurriel’s last ride with this bunch of October winners? He’ll try and make the most of every swing. Like all these Astros always seem to do. If it’s close win after close win. . . well, that works too.

“Usually we don’t beat ourselves,” Astros manager Dusty Baker says. “We don’t care what the score was or is. Just as long as we touch home plate one more time than they do.”

“He kept saying that we’d better win because he’d spent all his money on the ticket, I said, ‘We will.’ ” — Jose Altuve on the field-storming, selfie-seeking fan.

It’s easy to forget how beautiful Minute Maid Park can be with the roof open. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

This Houston team lives in the moment better than almost any team in recent sports history. They just keep focusing in. Knowing exactly how far they have to go — and what they need to do to get there.

No matter what is happening around them. No matter who is screaming what. Or even if a fan manages to get out onto the field and interrupt the game.

Heck, Altuve says he even would have given the dude a selfie if he had been quicker to get his phone out.

“He pulled his phone from his pocket and tried to take a selfie — and I was ready to take it — but then the security guys got there and did their job.”

Altuve shrugs. It’s the baseball playoffs. Anything can happen. But what usually does is the Astros winning. Just ask the luck screaming Yankees.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - Astros Playoffs