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Reigning MVP José Altuve set to return for Astros vs Mariners Tuesday

Jose Altuve is set to return Tuesday for the Astros against the Mariners. (AP)

SEATTLE – The Houston Astros on Monday night concluded what was their longest stretch without All-Star second baseman José Altuve since he made his debut as a 21-year-old on July 20, 2011.

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Altuve, the 2017 American League MVP, will be reinstated from the 10-day disabled list Tuesday and rejoin the starting lineup following a 21-game hiatus caused by right knee discomfort when Houston visits the Seattle Mariners.

Altuve exited in the fifth inning July 25 against the Colorado Rockies in Denver. He landed on the DL for the first time in his decorated eight-year career later that week. The Astros (75-50) dropped the opener of their three-game series with the Seattle Mariners on Monday and fell to 8-13 without Altuve.

Altuve made one rehab assignment start Sunday for Triple-A Fresno at Tacoma, finishing 1-for-3 with a hit by pitch. He got all the requisite work in advance of his return to action and declared himself fit to play following what has been an unusual experience.

“That was my first Triple-A game. Believe it or not, I was a little excited,” said Altuve, who made the jump to the majors from Double-A Corpus Christi. “It’s been a long time since I played in the minor leagues … but I know this was just part of my rehab.

“I have what I was looking to have.”

Said Astros manager A.J. Hinch: “He had a successful day of building some confidence and getting himself active where he could test himself. He did just about everything: he got a hit, he got on the bases, he made a hard turn, he sprinted to second base on a bloop single. They were reaction plays that we can’t really simulate in early work. It takes game competition to do that.”

For the first time this season, the Astros will utilize a sixth starter. Hinch has declared the second game of the series a bullpen day, with right-hander Brad Peacock (2-4, 3.19 ERA) slated to get the start against Seattle. The rotation void was created when right-hander Lance McCullers was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right forearm strain Aug. 5.

Peacock is 5-4 with a 4.42 ERA in 15 games (nine starts) versus Seattle, including four scoreless relief appearances over 5 1/3 innings this season.

Right-hander Mike Leake (8-7, 3.90 ERA) will start for the Mariners. Leake has recorded six consecutive quality starts, going 0-1 with a 2.54 ERA during that stretch. Despite allowing only two hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings in his previous outing against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, Leake did not factor into the decision. He is 6-6 with a 3.67 ERA over 15 career appearances (13 starts) against the Astros, including 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA this season.

The Mariners (72-54) pulled to within 3 1/2 games of Houston and the Athletics in the American League West after rallying for a 7-4 victory in the series opener. The Mariners have won five consecutive games against the slumping Astros, who have dropped eight of 10 to fall back into a tie with the Athletics atop the division.

Closer Edwin Díaz has saved each of the last six Seattle victories over the Astros and matched the franchise record with his 48th save Monday.

– STATS

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