Astros star Jose Altuve can expect rude reception in Bronx

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Jose Altuve is having a rough go of things at the plate in this postseason. He went 0-for-4 Thursday night which means his postseason batting average remains, after five games, a Blutarski with the decimal point moved a space to the left: point-zero-zero-zero.

He is 0-for-23. No man had ever started a postseason 0-for-23. This should be a source of great delight for the Yankees, and sheer bliss for their fans. Altuve looks lost at the plate, flailing, swinging out of his shoes, unable to muster anything out of the leadoff spot. That should be dreadful news for the Astros.

It has not been dreadful news for the Astros. The Astros are 5-0 in this postseason. They are 2-0 against the Yankees in this American League Championship Series, even though Altuve is 0-for-23, even though Yordan Alvarez was hitless until an eighth-inning flare Thursday. They beat the Yankees, 3-2, Thursday night, and their two best players have yet to be heard from.

This being Houston, not only has Altuve not been booed, but he became, for a few odd, uncomfortable moments, the unmistakable object of one overenthusiastic (and almost certainly overserved) fan’s attention. He sprinted onto the field just as Ryan Pressly was finishing his warm-up pitches in the top of the ninth, dashed straight to Altuve.

He was wearing a No. 7 Craig Biggio jersey. He wanted a hug.

Altuve hugged him. Somehow, Altuve kept smiling.

inning of the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Astros in Game 2 of the ALCS.
A fan runs on the field and hugs Jose Altuve during the ninth inning of the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Astros in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Getty Images

“I spent all of my money on the game. We need to win,” the fan said, immune to the irony that he was doing his best to compromise that, icing Pressly who icily stared at him.

“Yes, we will,” Altuve promised.

The fan asked if he could take a selfie. Altuve agreed because, what, are you going to say to a stranger who has hugged you in front of 41,700 people and — oh by the way — may not be quite right? But before the Hallmark moment could be snapped into his iPhone forever, security guards arrived and tackled him like J.J Watt.

A fan runs on the field to hug Jose Altuve during the Astros' ALCS Game 2 win.
A fan runs on the field to hug Jose Altuve during the Astros’ ALCS Game 2 win.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“I saw him and saw he was wearing an Astros jersey,” Altuve would say later, “and I was like: ‘OK. I’m fine.’ ”

Maybe Altuve wanted to enjoy one final moment of hometown affection before stepping into the cauldron that awaits him this weekend, in The Bronx, where the local baseball citizenry will not exactly be in a hugging mood, and there will be exactly zero compassion on sale at any Yankee Stadium concession stand.

No. The emotion of choice will be fury, and the vessel will be a serenade that’ll be sure to include the choicest of the seven words George Carlin said you can’t utter on television. Yankees fans can’t help themselves when it comes to Altuve, even if they know better, even if the one way you may roust Altuve from his postseason squalor is by treating him like a common thief.

To Yankees fans, that’s what he is (even though Altuve has steadfastly maintained that while he was aware of the Astros’ garbage-can shenanigans, he never benefited from them). He helped heist the 2017 pennant from the Yankees. He all but snuck into Aaron Judge’s apartment and lifted the ’17 MVP plaque.

These should be the best of times for Yankees fans because few things should enchant them more than seeing Altuve scuffle. His final at-bat Thursday, Altuve hit a scorching line drive off Jonathan Loaisiga that was ticketed for right field until Gleyber Torres got his glove on the short hop as he fell to the dirt, then started a 4-6-3 DP.

Security detains the Astros fan who hugged ran onto the field and hugged Jose Altuve.
Security detains the Astros fan who hugged ran onto the field and hugged Jose Altuve.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

That should’ve been pure bliss.

But there is nothing blissful about being down 0-2 to the Astros, the Yankees’ blood rival, even if Altuve — public enemy No. 1 — was nice enough to remove Dal Maxvill from the record books after 54 years, Maxvill having started the 1968 World Series 0-for-22 for the Cardinals.

Another famous 00000000ctober slide belonged to Gil Hodges, 0-for-21 for the 1952 World Series. When his slump continued into the next year, people all over Brooklyn — even the atheists and the agnostics — were asked to pray for Hodges, and they did.

There will be no prayers for Altuve in The Bronx this weekend. We could gently suggest that Yankee Stadium should let sleeping dogs lie, let Altuve be. But we know better. And if you have a seat in the left-field stands for any of the games, you would be wise to bring your mitt. Because you know better, too.

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