OAKLAND -- Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve hasn't been finding hits as often as he did in the first five months of the season, which made for what seemed like a struggle to reach 200. After making outs in his first three at-bats in Tuesday's 2-1 win over the A's, Altuve singled in the eighth inning and breathed a little easier.
Altuve cranked out his 200th hit, becoming the first player to have three consecutive 200-hit seasons since Ichiro Suzuki (2001-10) and first right-handed hitter since Michael Young (2003-07).
"It took a long time," said Altuve, who's batting .224 in September. "I tried to get hits in Seattle, I couldn't. I tried to get hits here, I couldn't, but finally. I think now I'm going to get more hits."
"He was chasing 200 hits for a little while now," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's such a good hitter and when he goes two or three or five at-bats without getting a hit, he's really hard on himself and he tries to do everything that he can to get on base. He tries to be the hero. He really does a good job of conducting his at-bats. Two-hundred hits is a big deal. It's not easy to do. He's done it a number of seasons in a row now, which is why he was one of the elite hitters in the league."
Altuve, who had a club-record 225 hits in '14 and 200 hits last year, is the third second baseman to reach 200 hits in three straight seasons, along with Charlie Gehringer and Rogers Hornsby. Prior to Altuve reaching 200 hits in '14, the only Astros player to have 200 hits in a season was Craig Biggio (210 in 1998).
Altuve showed some frustration in the sixth when he tried to bunt for a hit but was thrown out and threw his bat down in the dugout.
"I mean, I wasn't thinking about getting a hit just because I could get to 200," he said. "I was just trying to get on base. It was a close game, we're winning by one run and we knew that one of the other teams lost today, so we wanted to win and get closer today and try to make the Wild Card."
Altuve, who notched his 1,000th career hit earlier this year, entered the day leading the Majors in hits, but Mookie Betts of the Red Sox beat him to 200 hits earlier in the day. Altuve is chasing his second American League batting title in three seasons and leads the league with a .336 average.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.