HOUSTON – When it comes to dynamic duos, there is often a well-defined leader and a trusted partner.
That’s not the case for second baseman José Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa, Houston’s midfielder combo who shine equally for the Astros.
“A lot of times you have an All-Star caliber (player) and like a … Robin,” manager Dusty Baker said. “But this time you have two Batman.”
The pair played their 66th postseason game together on Saturday, which is the most by a shortstop-second base duo in MLB history.
The two cornerstones of the franchise, or to use Baker’s term, the vertebrae of the team, have played together since Correa’s debut in 2015, a year that featured his first trip to the postseason.
Altuve doesn’t recall a specific conversation they had at the time about their expectations for the future, but he knows that they often talked about “winning and playing together for a long time.”
They have certainly achieved both goals. This season marks their sixth trip to the postseason and they have helped the Astros to a fifth straight American League Championship Series in which they are tied 1-1 with the Boston Red Sox.
They are seeking a third trip to the World Series after losing to Washington in 2019 following their 2017 World Series victory that was later hit by a signal theft scandal.
Houston has won more than 100 games in three of the seasons since Correa came to the majors and finished this regular season with 95 wins to capture his fourth American League West title in five years.
“It’s hard to imagine something like this,” Altuve said. “What we are living is a dream come true. We thank God every day for the opportunity to play together, for what we are doing. And it has been, it has been amazing.”
Altuve hit a two-run home run to tie Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night before Correa’s solo home run in the seventh inning put them on top in a 5-4 victory. . Boston hit two grand slams in Game 2 to tie the series with a 9-5 victory.
Game 3 is Monday night in Boston, where the Astros will have to rely more on Altuve, Correa and the rest of their powerful offense after a serious injury to their pitching body.
Altuve’s home run on Friday was the 20th of his postseason career, tying him with New York Yankees great Derek Jeter for third in MLB history. Not to be outdone, Correa’s connection gave him five RBIs this postseason and 55 in his career to overtake Albert Pujols and every other active player.
“I don’t know if they are trying to improve themselves, but they are trying to do the best they can every time,” Baker said.
Although Altuve now views Correa as an equal, Correa still admires Altuve as a child who idolizes his older brother.
When asked about Altuve, Correa lists some of his many accomplishments, including the 2017 AL Most Valuable Player, five Silver Slugger Awards and capturing the AL batting title three times. But what impresses Correa de Altuve the most is not that he has won so many awards, but the way he continues to work after collecting all those merits.
“When you have the best player on your team, that captain, that franchise player that everyone admires working so hard, it’s just contagious,” Correa said. “Everyone else in the organization does the same, so I feel like he inspires everyone in that clubhouse every day.”
Correa becomes a free agent at the end of the season. And there is growing concern that the Astros won’t be able to keep him, even though owner Jim Crane recently said he thinks they have a chance. Correa would like to stay in Houston and his teammates and coaches want him to stay with the team.
But Altuve seems to be the only one who really believes he will. He mentions that he does not believe that these are the last games he will play with Correa without being asked.
“I still feel like we’re going to sign him,” Altuve said. “We have to. If we want to continue doing what we are doing, we have to sign Carlos.”
Since Altuve has voiced so much in the media his desire for his friend to remain with him in Houston for years to come, he believes Crane should have gotten his message loud and clear by now.
But in case you haven’t, Altuve is prepared to personally plead his case to Crane.
“I have to talk to him,” Altuve said. “I’m going to call him for sure and tell him that we have to stay with Carlos.”