UPDATE, 12:38 p.m. ET: Scratch that. Altuve has now been added to the starting lineup for Sunday’s game.
Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle breaks it down:
Jose Altuve is starting the day on the bench with the Astros’ first batting title riding on the line.
With 157 games played already and an 0-for-4 performance on Saturday, Altuve appears to be banking that the Detroit Tigers’ Victor Martinez won’t have the multi-hit day needed to catch him.
Altuve boasts a .340 batting average in 656 at-bats this season. Martinez sits at .337 through 558 at-bats.
V-Mart needs to go 3-for-3 (or 4-for-4) on Sunday against the Twins to catch Altuve. The Tigers would take that, as they’re trying to fend off the Royals and wrap up their fourth straight American League Central championship. A loss by Detroit and a win by Kansas City would set up a Game 163 tiebreaker.
Altuve made it known to reporters Sunday morning that this was not his decision. The call was made by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and interim manager Tom Lawless. “I wanted to play,” Altuve said. “It wasn’t up to me.” Altuve was told he would sit in a meeting with Luhnow, Lawless, and “three other people I don’t know.”
MORE FROM HARDBALLTALK: Jose Altuve has the most hits by a second baseman in 78 years
Mets second baseman Robinson Canó is not in the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the division rival Nationals. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, it’s punishment for failing to run hard on a pair of double plays over the weekend against the Marlins.
Manager Mickey Callaway said, “He understands that it’s unacceptable to not run balls out. He understands that he needs to do that at all times.”
Canó first gaffe came in the top of the seventh inning on Friday, with his team trailing 7-3. Facing Adam Conley, Canó hit a grounder back to the pitcher, who turned a 1-6-3 double play. Canó was only halfway up the first base line when the throw got to first base.
In the fourth inning on Sunday, with the game still scoreless, Canó tapped a Sandy Alcantara pitch in the dirt. Thinking it was foul, Canó didn’t run, but catcher Chad Wallach charged and grabbed the ball while it was still in fair territory. He threw to second base for the force out and then the ball was easily whipped to first base to complete the double play as Canó still thought it was foul.
This likely wouldn’t be as big a deal as it currently is if Canó were actually producing at the plate and if the Mets weren’t in a freefall. Canó has a .245/.293/.374 batting line on the season. Meanwhile, the Mets are 20-25 and riding a five-game losing streak which includes having been shut out in each of their last two games.