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It was only a matter of time before Altuve fully embraced his new role

It was only a matter of time before Altuve fully embraced his new role
Jose Altuve completed the heel turn. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

If you've read my stuff here, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know I'm a pro wrestling fan. Have been all my life and will continue to be. There are terms they use for good guys and bad guys. Good guys are called babyfaces or a face. Bad guys are called heels. Wrestlers who truly enjoy the craft will mostly claim to like playing a heel because your character can get away with more. They're expected to cheat to win. They also get "heat" with the crowd by insulting them and/or attacking/insulting the face they're going up against. See where I'm going with this?

The Astros have finally embraced their heel turn following the sign stealing scandal. Most guys have not really paid much attention to opposing fans booing them. Some have barked back at opposing players/fans/media, most notably Carlos Correa who took it upon himself to defend the club last season after they swept the Twins in the playoffs. That was a rallying cry that nearly brought them back to another World Series appearance. Jose Altuve has been largely silent when it comes to things. Last season was the worst of his career. It only came out before this season that he was dealing with some personal issues that caused his lull in play. This season started bad for him as well. That is, until a fateful trip to the Bronx to play the hated Yankees.

This was the team's first appearance in the Bronx since fans were allowed back into stadiums. They booed, made signs, held trash cans, and wore t-shirts and costumes. On more than one occasion, a "f*** Altuve" chant broke out. Altuve had enough and hit a game winning three-run homer to shut the crowd up. Ever since, his power numbers have been off the charts. He has 18 homers this season, with 11 of those coming in his last 30 games. His career high for a season of 24 is expected to fall this year if he keeps this up.

He's typically known as the soft-spoken, kind-hearted, quiet leader of the team. Altuve fully embraced the heel turn when he not so subtly waved goodbye to the Cleveland crowd after the team swept a four game series this past weekend, and I love it! I wrote about this before the start of last season because I felt the team might as well lean into being the bad guys if opposing fans/players/media were going to keep crapping on them. While some did, it wasn't until Altuve's wave that I was most proud. It's a simple gesture that players have done in the past. But when it comes from a guy like him, it carries a different type of weight. It also has more meaning since the team is leading the AL West by 4.5 games and are only a half game behind the Red Sox for the best record in the AL at the time of this writing.

This team is loaded with talent. While they've struggled in some areas, the one area they need to improve is the bullpen. The offense currently leads all of MLB in run differential at +137. Of the guys with 100 at-bats or more, they have five guys hitting .280 or more, another two guys just under that mark, and four of them are at .300 or more. I'd love to see them keep this same attitude and make another World Series run. Ideally, I'd love for them to win it all. If forced to settle for a World Series appearance, I guess I'd be okay. Then we could all wave goodbye to the haters.

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Justin Verlander will start for the Astros on Friday night. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (22-28, third in the AL West) vs. Oakland Athletics (21-31, fourth in the AL West)

Oakland, California; Friday, 9:40 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 strikeouts); Athletics: Ross Stripling (1-8, 5.19 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 32 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -170, Athletics +142; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series at home against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Oakland has a 21-31 record overall and a 12-14 record in home games. The Athletics have hit 65 total home runs to rank third in the AL.

Houston is 22-28 overall and 8-13 in road games. The Astros have a 13-4 record in games when they did not allow a home run.

The teams match up Friday for the fifth time this season. The Astros lead the season series 4-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brent Rooker has 11 home runs, 17 walks and 32 RBI while hitting .286 for the Athletics. Max Schuemann is 12-for-35 with a double and two RBI over the past 10 games.

Kyle Tucker leads Houston with 17 home runs while slugging .638. Alex Bregman is 9-for-38 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 2-8, .225 batting average, 5.25 ERA, outscored by 27 runs

Astros: 7-3, .272 batting average, 3.13 ERA, outscored opponents by 20 runs

INJURIES: Athletics: Esteury Ruiz: 10-Day IL (wrist), Darell Hernaiz: 60-Day IL (ankle), Alex Wood: 15-Day IL (rotator cuff), Paul Blackburn: 15-Day IL (foot), Joseph Boyle: 15-Day IL (back), Freddy Tarnok: 60-Day IL (hip), Luis Medina: 60-Day IL (knee), Sean Newcomb: 60-Day IL (knee), Aledmys Diaz: 60-Day IL (calf), Miguel Andujar: 10-Day IL (knee), Ken Waldichuk: 60-Day IL (elbow), Trevor Gott: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jose Urquidy: 15-Day IL (forearm), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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