NEW YORK — All series long, Jose Altuve has been the brunt of a merciless reception directed at the Astros in their return to the Bronx.
After two games with constant "F*** Altuve" chants ringing through Yankee Stadium, fans greeted the face of Houston's franchise with a new, ruthless chant on Thursday.
"F*** your birthday!"
With the game on the line in the eighth inning, however, the birthday boy silenced the crowd with one swing.
Altuve turned on a high fastball from right-hander Chad Green, sending a three-run home run over the wall in left field. The second baseman's blast gave Houston a 5-3 lead, one they wouldn't relinquish.
"[Altuve] is a very dangerous hitter and put together a pretty good at-bat and went up out of the zone there on 3-2 and put a charge into one," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the game. "Sometimes you've got to tip your cap. He had some tough at bats today and obviously put a big swing on one."
Digesting the eighth inning after the loss, Green placed the blame on his leadoff walk, allowing Kyle Tucker to reach to start the frame. He said the inning should never have even gotten to Altuve—who was due up fourth—but it was an example of a good hitter getting a hold of a good pitch.
"I've been looking at the replay," Green said. "It's not a terrible pitch, but with the events leading up to that and command of my pitches leading up to that situation, it wasn't a good pitch to him."
When this highly-anticipated series began on Tuesday night, the first meeting between these two clubs since details of Houston's sign-stealing scandal broke a year ago, it didn't take long for Altuve to hear it from the fans.
Other members of the Astros—like Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa—received their fair share of boos as well, but the Altuve disparagement simply never stopped. Until that clutch home run cleared the left-field wall, that is.
These two clubs won't face off again until a series in Houston two weeks into July. If they meet again in the Bronx, it'll be in the postseason.
Asked about the unwavering barrage of boos toward Altuve this week, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton agreed earlier in the series that the second baseman had quite a bit of noise to block out between the lines.
"I wouldn't want to be on the other side of that," Stanton said. "They brought something heavy"
"Probably not fun, but at the same time, I'm sure he's probably been used to kind of that spotlight now for the last couple of years," LeMahieu added.
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