8/31/2014 7:25 P.M. ET
Altuve positions himself for Ichiro-like season
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve enters the final month of the season leading the American League in hits, batting average and stolen bases, giving him a chance to become the first player to lead his league in those three categories since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
He went 4-for-5 with two doubles in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Rangers and drove in the game-winning run with an eighth-inning single, giving him a Major League-leading 189 hits. He's hitting .336 as he vies to become the first Astros player to win a batting title.
If he can win a batting title, he would join Joe Mauer (2006) and Alex Rodriguez (1996) as the only AL players 24 or younger to win a batting title in the last 20 seasons. He's the first AL player with at least 185 hits and 49 steals in a season since Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury in 2009.
Jeff Bagwell set a club record in his Most Valuable Player season of 1994 when he batted .368, but he still finished a distant second to the Padres' Tony Gwynn (.394) in the National League batting race that season.
Altuve needs just 11 hits to become the second Astros player to reach 200 in a season, joining Craig Biggio. He had a club-record 210 hits in 1998, hitting .325 that season. Biggio had 178 hits through 137 games, so Altuve is seven ahead of that pace.
Altuve ranks eighth on the club's single-season charts in hits, one behind Carlos Lee (190 in 2007).
Downs, Hoes to be among September callups
HOUSTON -- Reinforcements are on the way.
The Astros can expand their roster beginning Monday, and manager Bo Porter said the club's initial wave of September callups will join the team Tuesday (the Astros are off Monday). Left-hander Darin Downs, who's on a Minor League rehab assignment, will join the club Tuesday as long as his outing Sunday goes well.
Right-hander Sam Deduno, who was picked up off waivers, will also join the team Tuesday, giving the Astros' bullpen some much-needed help. Astros relievers had thrown the fourth-fewest innings among AL relief corps entering Sunday, but several arms are in uncharted territory as far as innings worked.
"Extra arms will definitely help this time of year because the guys we have down there who have been mainstays throughout the course of the year, they've been asked to pick up a lot of innings," Porter said. "Any chance you have to give those guys a blow will be good."
When the majority of callups arrive in Houston depends on whether Triple-A Oklahoma City makes the playoffs. The RedHawks entered the penultimate day of the regulars season Sunday one-half game behind first-place Omaha in the American North Division of the Pacific Coast League.
Among the other players expected to get called up are relief pitcher Paul Clemens, outfielder L.J. Hoes, catcher Max Stassi and shortstop Jonathan Villar.
• Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, who was scratched from Saturday' game with a tight hamstring, was unavailable Sunday except in an emergency, Porter said.
• Outfielder Alex Presley, on the disabled list since July 8 with a strained oblique, will go out on a Minor League rehab assignment beginning Monday at an undetermined location.