NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros hits a solo home run during ... [+]

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Many fans were still settling into their seats on a picture-perfect Tuesday afternoon when Jose Altuve crushed Yankees right-hander Luis Severino's third pitch of the game into the Houston bullpen. It was Altuve's first home run in the ALCS and fourth this October, adding to an already-impressive playoff ledger and quickly quieting the crowd en route to a 4-1 victory that gave his club a two-games-to-one series lead.

"Huge. He set the tone for us," said fellow infielder Alex Bregman. "He is a tone-setter and we look up to him a lot."

Altuve reached on an error the next inning and stole second, joining Carlos Beltran, Colby Rasmus and George Springer as the only players in team history to both homer and steal a base in a postseason game. The Astros second baseman made another key contribution later on with a makeshift hit-and-run play in the seventh, singling through the hole on the right side while Springer was attempting to swipe second.

The former MVP would later score on a wild pitch, the franchise-record 30th time he's crossed the plate in 40 postseason contests. Game 3 was just the latest installment in the Altuve Does It All series, a show that airs each fall and saves its best episodes for when Houston does battle with New York.

"Today specifically, you come into this stadium, you have to try to take the lead. And the homer kind of kick-started everything," manager AJ Hinch said following the victory. "Part of the heart and soul of what we do is Jose. He's been here the longest of anybody on this team. He's an energy provider."

A diminutive dynamo on the big stage, Altuve has slashed .288/.348/.546 with 12 postseason homers, tied with Springer for most by an Astro. Four of those have given Houston the lead, tying Carlos Beltran for yet another all-time club mark.

"I've never seen that kind of talent before in my life, and I don't know if I'll ever see it again," said Cy Young Award candidate Gerrit Cole, who earned the win behind seven scoreless innings.

The three-time AL batting champion extended his postseason hitting streak to 12 with the first-inning solo shot, a stretch that dates back to last year's ALCS Game 1 at Fenway Park. While he's made his mark against many different opponents throughout the league, Altuve has been a real thorn in the Yankees' side, even more so when the stakes are at their highest.

In 46 career games against New York in the regular season, Altuve hit .291 with 7 home runs and 17 RBIs. Decent numbers from the six-time All-Star, but nothing to write home about. He upped the ante with his Bronx bashing in 2019, though, going 12 for 31 (.387) with five homers.

Playoff baseball is where Altuve has really hurt the Yankees, batting .341 with three homers, six RBIs, seven runs scored, five walks and three stolen bases in 11 games.

"I think I get ready and I prepare myself the same way I do for a normal game. We know in this case the games are more important and more intense. People, the fans, they get into the game maybe more," Altuve said. "And maybe that's why. I'm not trying to do anything different, I'just trying to be the player I am, put the ball in play and get on base and steal some bases and in the end score some runs to help my team."

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 6: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrates after defeating the New ... [+]

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The longest-tenured member of the Astros, Altuve made his postseason debut at Yankee Stadium in the 2015 Wild Card Game and plated a key insurance run off of fireballing reliever Dellin Betances as part of a stunning 3-0 victory for the then-underdogs. He played a key role in the franchise's first World Series championship two years later, and hopes to get another opportunity next week against the Washington Nationals.

Houston is 9-1 in postseason games in which their 5-foot-6 leader clubs one over the fence.

"He's a spark anytime he's on the field," Hinch said. "I've said this before, but he's everything right about the Houston Astros is Jose Altuve."

As Altuve goes, so go the Astros.


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