The Houston Astros wanted to establish momentum at home early in Game 6 of the ALCS. Yuli Gurriel did exactly that with a three-run homer in the first inning.
With the New York Yankees winning Game 5 at home and ace Gerrit Cole being saved for a potential Game 7, it was crucial for the Houston Astros to strike first in Game 6 as the series shifted back to Texas.
Thanks to Yuli Gurriel, the Astros did exactly that in the bottom of the first inning Saturday night.
After George Springer struck out, Jose Altuve got things started with a double to center. Michael Brantley flied out to center, but after Chad Green walked Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel stepped up to the plate. To that point in the series, Gurriel was 1-for-20, and the Astros had been 4-for-40 with runners in scoring position.
It didn’t matter, as Gurriel drilled a fastball back 356 feet for a three-run homer that gave Houston a commanding 3-0 lead right off the bat (pun intended).
The three-run score ignited an already raucous crowd at Minute Maid Park, providing the exact momentum boost the home team was looking for. There are still eight innings left in this do-or-die Game 6 for New York, and the Yankees responded in the top of the second when Gary Sanchez’s single brought home Didi Gregorius to make it 3-1.
But for a guy like Gurriel — who had struggled throughout the majority of the series — to step up in such a big moment, in a potential Game 6 clincher, was all the Astros could’ve asked for.
We’ll see how it winds up paying off for Houston after New York’s gritty response in the next inning, but this is exactly the start Houston wanted as it looks to advance to the World Series. Heading into the bottom of the second, the Astros lead 3-1.