Jose Altuve has spent his Astros career authoring heroic playoff moment after heroic playoff moment. Over the last seven postseasons, the moment always seems to find baseball's biggest, and most undeserving, villain.
Everywhere Altuve goes, a chorus of boos follow. It matters not that Altuve wasn't a participant in the sign-stealing system--he's the face of the franchise and has been unjustifiably punished as such.
He's remained quiet and humble, letting his October home runs talk more than a defense or justification ever could.
And on Friday night, Altuve and the Astros made quite possibly their loudest statement of the Golden Era.
Jose Altuve's three-run home leads Houston to Game 5 victory
The fate of the series was hanging in the balance. Dusty Baker and wipeout reliever Bryan Abreu had already been ejected in what was expected to be the main story of the game. Abreu hit Adolis Garcia in the bottom of the 8th, and the umpires deemed it retaliation after Garcia's antics rounding the bases on his go-ahead blast off of Justin Verlander.
After a length delay deciding the fates of Baker, Abreu and Garcia, play resumed. Altuve ensured he and his team would be the headline, and not as a result of any ejections.
With Baker out, Joe Espada decided to pinch hit Yainer Diaz and Jon Singleton for Jeremy Peña and Martín Maldonado in the top of the 9th. Diaz singled to lead off the inning while Singleton worked a walk.
Altuve, the go-ahead runner, stepped in with nobody out. He blasted the second pitch of the at-bat into the left field seats, his 26th career postseason home run.
His mammoth swing came on the four-year anniversary of Altuve's Game 6 walk-off in 2019.
With the Astros leading 5-4, Ryan Pressly allowed the first two runners of the inning to reach, but he buckled down and retired Semien, Seager, and Carter, securing one of the Astros most improbable victories of their Golden Era.
The Astros head back to Minute Maid needing only one win to advance to their third consecutive World Series. One thing is certain--if Jose Altuve finds himself in the middle of the deciding moment, he'll more than rise to the occasion.