7/21/2013 2:10 P.M. ET
Altuve providing spark from leadoff spot in lineup
By Chris Abshire / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- For the first time in seven games, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was back in his comfort zone on Sunday.
Altuve was the leadoff batter for the series finale against Seattle, and it's the spot where he's been most prolific.
Entering Sunday's game, Altuve leads the American League with a .375 on-base percentage (minimum 25 games) from the No. 1 spot. That's better than stalwarts like Jacoby Ellsbury and Ian Kinsler. He's also batting .323 (43-for-133) from the top spot in the order.
"I actually wish I could hit him one through nine, but they won't let me do that," manager Bo Porter joked. "He's going to hit one or two. It all depends on who else is in the lineup. A lot of time it has to do with the other eight guys as to where he'll hit."
Jake Elmore and Carlos Pena rotated in the leadoff spot over the last six games as Porter tinkered with the lineup going into and out of the All-Star break.
Pena's three games batting first made it seven Astros who have been the leadoff hitter this year. That's emblematic of Houston's revolving-door lineup this season, as only Altuve's and Jason Castro's slots have been fairly consistent.
"We don't have a set lineup, because we don't have enough players on our team that have established themselves as everyday Major League players that can hit at a particular spot regardless of the pitcher," Porter said. "It will continue to be a fluid situation."
Altuve has said he embraces the leadoff role, but doesn't pay much attention to it once he reaches the batter's box.
The rise back to the leadoff spot meant Brett Wallace was back as the No. 2 hitter, with Porter trying to get Wallace into more RBI situations due to the lefty's hot bat of late.
Bedard exercises caution in no-hit bid
HOUSTON -- Besides the oddity of seeing a pitcher lose after throwing 6 1/3 no-hit innings, Saturday's game was also odd for the way Erik Bedard exited.
While most players -- and pitchers especially -- talk about wanting the ball and wanting to stay in as long as possible, Bedard was having none of it.
"I was done," Bedard said of his thought process as manager Bo Porter approached the mound. "I wasn't about to go over 110."
The veteran lefty was thinking about his career when he asked out, saying he'd rather "pitch a couple more years than face another batter." Bedard left with 109 pitches and a man on first. Jose Cisnero allowed a go-ahead two-run double three batters later, saddling Bedard with the loss.
While Porter said he enjoys a bulldog mentality, he's also respectful of a player's physical limits, especially with his pitching staff.
"I've told our starters before, you better get it done within 120 pitches," Porter said. "Understanding the ramifications of what can follow that kind of stress on your arm, it's just something you have to be careful.
"Whenever you start to talk about health issues, I usually lean toward the side of protecting the player. This guy's had three surgeries and been down the road of the injury and having to rehab and he knows his body. I respect him for making the decision he made."
Bedard's outing was the first time a starter tossed at least 6 1/3 hitless innings and received a loss since Boston lefty Matt Young fell to Cleveland on Apr. 12, 1991.
• Saturday's loss made it a 12 straight losses for the Astros at home against division opponents, dating back to a May 8 win over the Angels.
• With a rush of call ups over the last month, the average age of the Houston roster has lowered to 27.3, the second-youngest group in the Majors behind only Miami.
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.