BOSTON -- It was fitting that Jose Altuve would have a hand in recording the final out of the Astros' 5-4 series-clinching win over the Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan on Monday at Fenway Park.
After fielding a hard-hit grounder from Dustin Pedroia and throwing to first base to end a wild, four-hour-and-seven-minute affair, Altuve punched his glove and began soaking in the moment.
It was the type of triumph that eluded Altuve for many years as he watched his club weather a four-year rebuild that yielded three consecutive 100-loss seasons before a series of top Draft picks and savvy free-agent signings coalesced into the 2017 Astros, a powerhouse that won 101 games in the regular season and is now bound for the franchise's first Championship Series since 2005.
"We've been working really, really hard for this," Altuve said in a postgame television interview. "I'm excited about everybody out there celebrating because they did a really good job all season long to get to this point."
The 5-foot-6 Altuve carried the Astros for much of the ALDS, finishing 8-for-15 over four games against the Red Sox. He delivered an unforgettable performance in Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, homering three times to power the Astros to an 8-2 win. The next day, he singled in his first two at-bats of Game 2, prompting the Red Sox to intentionally walk him the next two times he stepped up to the plate.
Altuve's torrid production came as no surprise to the Astros, who saw the 27-year-old second baseman put together his fourth consecutive 200-hit campaign and make a compelling case for the AL Most Valuable Player Award during the regular season.
"It's remarkable to watch him every day," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I'm very lucky to be his manager. It is hard to answer the same question over and over again on how great he is, but I continue to reiterate. This guy puts in time, he puts in energy, he's prepared, he loves to play. This national spotlight that he's been in over the last couple of years, not just this series, has been well deserved because of the quality of person he is, quality of player he is. He's certainly everything that's right about the Astros. I say that all the time, and I'll continue to say that. You can just continue to copy and paste in your articles."
For all his personal accolades, Altuve's focus remains on continuing to propel the Astros deep into October and avoiding another crushing exit like their ALDS loss to the Royals in 2015. Houston will face the Yankees in the ALCS presented by Camping World, which begins on Friday.
"It's been a good journey," Altuve said. "Not easy, but what matters right now is that we're here. I want to thank God for the opportunity to be playing with this amazing team right now. I know we have a lot of things to do. This is not our goal. But we're going step by step. We stay very humble about the way we play. This is us."
Maria Guardado is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.