SAN DIEGO — Jose Altuve has an undeniable case of the yips, and it’s hurting the Houston Astros badly in the playoffs.
The second baseman committed his fourth throwing error of the postseason and third of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night in the sixth inning of Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Altuve also made two throwing errors in Game 2 of the series, contributing significantly to the Astros’ 4-2 loss. The six-time All-Star’s three errors in the past two games led directly to five runs while prolonging rallies that would have been largely shut down by solid defensive play.
In Game 3, Altuve fielded Brandon Lowe’s grounder at second and then botched a routine toss to second base on an attempted forceout of Randy Arozarena, bouncing his throw past shortstop Carlos Correa into left field with a noticeably unnatural throwing motion.
With two runners on base, the Astros removed starter Jose Urquidy, who had been pitching well before Altuve’s mistake.
Tampa Bay promptly capitalized with back-to-back singles to take the lead. Joey Wendle’s two-run single with the bases loaded put the Rays up 2-1, and it was 5-1 by the time the inning finally ended.
Altuve bounced two throws to first from shallow right field while playing in a defensive shift in Game 2. After his second error, Correa took Altuve’s normal spot in the Astros’ shift, and he retained the spot in Game 3.
“You just hope he isn’t getting the yips, because invariably they come in bunches,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker, who gave Altuve a hug in the dugout after the third inning Monday. “Everything comes in bunches. I just told him to flush it. This guy has been awesome for us. You’ve got to flush it and move on, or else it multiplies. I’m sure he’ll do that.”
Altuve also made a throwing error in Game 2 of the first-round series against Minnesota. He committed only four errors during the regular season for Houston, which led the majors with a .991 fielding percentage.