Altuve 'couldn't believe it' when Astros acquired Verlander
Jose Altuve admitted he was surprised when the Astros signed six-time MLB All-Star Justin Verlander as Houston prepare to face the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
The Astros are a series away from reaching their first World Series since losing to the Chicago White Sox in 2005 as a National League (NL) team and they will send Verlander to the mound for game two, after Dallas Keuchel pitches Friday's opener against the Yankees.
Verlander - an American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner - has been near-perfect since joining Houston from the Detroit Tigers moments before the August 31 waiver-trade deadline.
Houston second baseman Altuve could not believe it when the Astros acquired the 34-year-old ace.
"I remember I was at home that day and my brother told me, 'Hey, we got him', and I was like, 'No, we didn't'. And then he was, 'Yes, we did.' I remember I saw my phone and MLB At Bat said, 'OK, Astros acquire Justin Verlander.' And I couldn't believe it," Altuve said. "I remember we had a day off the next day and I was like, 'I don't want to have a day off, I want to go play now, I want to see Justin with the Astros uniform.'
"So I think that was my feeling, but I know that the other 24 guys in the team felt the same way about getting Justin Verlander. I was so excited and I was like, 'OK, here we go.' It's not a secret that we had a good team before him, before trading for him, but after we did that it's like, 'OK, now we go, now we got everything we need.' And I was really happy we got him."
Altuve is ready to help Houston beat the Yankees after enjoying a banner year. Keuchel will start game one of the ALCS.
"I woke up this morning and I was like, 'Oh, Dallas pitching tonight, this is great,'"Altuve said during Friday's news conference. "And I love when he pitches. He goes out there and he plays a hundred percent every time. He's very professional and he likes to pitch and we like to play behind him."
Altuve has reason for excitement. Keuchel enters Friday's game with a sterling 1.24 career ERA against the Yankees, which is the best among active pitchers with at least five starts against them.
Houston are rich in young talent, especially in their line-up, but Altuve believes the veteran leadership of a player like Carlos Beltran could help the Astros reach their full potential.
"Carlos has been in the league for 20 years and he knows a lot," Altuve said. "He goes beyond just hitting and defense, he gives you little details that really help you to keep getting better and develop into the game."