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Astros 2B Altuve ejected for second time in career

Jose Altuve Houston Astros Jose Altuve - The Canadian Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Jose Altuve was hopping mad.

He had appeared to foul a ball off his left foot in the seventh inning of Sunday's game at the New York Mets, with runners on second and third and two outs as the Houston Astros tried to boost their 4-2 lead. The ball went on three hops to third baseman Mark Vientos, who threw to first as Altuve remained near the batter’s box.

Umpires ruled it an inning-ending groundout, and Altuve was ejected for the second time in his major league career after tossing his helmet and bat.

“They didn't see it,” Altuve said after the Astros' 10-5 victory in 11 innings, which lifted Houston above .500 for the first time this year at 42-41.

James Jean, umpiring behind the plate for the first time after making his major league debut Friday, didn’t signal a foul ball.

“I understand the guy behind the plate didn't see it because the catcher's there,” Altuve said. “But you have another three guys — first, second and third. I felt like it was kind of obvious. That's why I was so mad.”

Astros manager Joe Espada came onto the field and the four umpires conferenced — that type of call is not subject to a video review, Crew chief Alan Porter signaled the out call. Altuve then slammed his helmet and bat and was tossed. The 2017 AL MVP put one hand under each eye as if to say: didn’t you see it?

“The ball kind of took a different direction once it hit the ground, to Vientos,” Espada said. “And (if) someone was going to get out of the box, second and third, and beat a ball out at first base, it's Jose Altuve. So if he’s arguing, that ball hit him. And it looked like the ball hit him to me.”

Altuve's other ejection was on Aug. 6, 2016, when he was tossed during the seventh inning of a 3-2 loss against Texas for arguing after a called third strike by Porter.

An eight-time All-Star, Altuve is batting .304 with 13 homers, 37 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

He got doubled up at first base on a flyout in the fifth when he was running on the pitch and fell for Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jeff McNeil acting as if Alex Bregman had hit a grounder.

Houston opened the season 7-19 and was 12-24 before play on May 9.

“I never lost faith in this group,” Espada said. “I know that we were down, but were were not out, and I’m not surprised that we are where we are.”

Houston took two of three from the Mets and finished 17-8 in June. Jake Meyers hit a go-ahead single in the 11th off Matt Festa, Joey Loperfido followed with a two-run single and Trey Cabbage added a two-run double.

“It was a goal to get to .500 before All-Star break,” Meyers said. “It kind of shows that we’ve been grinding through the season, ups and downs.”