A case of postseason yips appears to have developed, after the mistake of throwing the third baseman of the series during the game to the usually-handed second baseman of course, it could not have come at a worse time.
Astro, already down 2–0 in the series of top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays, had an early lead in Game 3. He needed a win on Tuesday night to realistically maintain his appearance in another World Series due to a sign-stealing scandal that marred the 2017 title and tarnished Altuve’s reputation (among others).
Instead of turning in an out, the latest Altuve error opened the floodgates for a five-run rally that proved decisive as Houston fell into the 3–0 ALCS hole.
Usually, this is a throwback Altuve closes his eyes. Eventually, he went through the entire 60-game regular season without committing a throw error.
Right now, it’s a throwback to the former AL MVP probably wanting to avoid it at all costs.
Just like in Game 2, when Altuve’s first throwing error was immediately followed by Manuel Margot’s three-run home run, the Rays quickly capitalized. It was Joey Wendall in Game 3, who gave Tampa Bay the lead with a two-run single.
Hunter Renfro then opened it with two runs, extending Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-1. By the way, an Altuve had a home run in the first inning.
Altuve’s sudden struggles brought back another infielder who experienced yips. Former Minnesota twins and New York Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch saw his career take an unfortunate turn in 1999 when he could no longer reliably throw relatively simple first base. Noboluch committed 41 errors in a span of 231 games, most of which were thrown poor.
Obviously, we have not reached that level of concern with Altuve yet. But given the circumstances surrounding him, the timing of the rogues and the damage he has done to Houston’s postseason hopes may be baseball’s most famous case in two decades.
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