Short of an injury, the last thing any baseball player wants to deal with is a case of the yips. It’s when one seemingly innocuous mistake can take a life of its own and make the simplest of plays feel impossible. Just ask Chuck Knoblauch and Rick Ankiel what the yips can do to a career.

They’re not alone.

Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, for example, has the yips on throws to first base. He’s made five All-Star appearances as a pitcher (you know, a position that requires throwing with great precision), but he can’t make a pickoff throw to first base. It’s wild.

And now, it appears that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is dealing with the yips at an extremely inopportune time.

The Astros went down 3-0 in their ALCS matchup with the Rays thanks in part to a throwing error from Altuve in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game. The Rays went on to score five runs in the inning after the error wiped out what could have been a double play.

Defensively, this postseason has been a nightmare for Altuve, and it’s all pointing to a case of the yips. The Astros second baseman went the regular season without committing a throwing error. He’s had four (!!!) in this postseason and three in the ALCS.

And it’s not like he’s making throws across the diamond from third. He’s short-hopping simple, routine throws from second base. They’ve been costly as well.

His first ALCS throwing error in Game 2 would have ended an inning. Instead, Manny Margot capitalized with a three-run home run.

He made an identical error in the third inning that eventually had Carlos Correa taking Altuve’s position in the shift against Brandon Lowe.

How did this happen? We don’t know. Altuve hasn’t spoken to reporters since the throwing errors started.

Really, Altuve’s sudden inability to make throws from second base has everyone with the Astros perplexed. Manager Dusty Baker has taken the approach of just supporting Altuve through this rough stretch and hoping he turns things around. He said via ESPN:

“We’re giving him all the support that we can. Nobody feels worse than Jose. He takes it very seriously, and he takes it to heart. He’s one of ours, and we’ve all been through this before. Maybe not in the spotlight like this. It hurts us all to see him hurting.”

But with the Astros down 3-0 in the series, it’s likely too late. The damage has already been done.

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