AL batting champion Gurriel helps lift Astros over A’s 7-6
HOUSTON – AL batting champion Yuli Gurriel hit a winning RBI single in the ninth inning, and the AL West champion Houston Astros headed to the postseason with a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
Gurriel hit .319 and became Houston’s second player to win a batting title after Jose Altuve in 2014, ’16 and ’17. Gurriel became the second Cuban-born big league batting champion after Tony Oliva in 1964, ’65 and 1971.
“It’s something really important,” Gurriel said through a translator. “I think everybody knows it’s a big deal, and it’s tough to win a batting title, so that means a lot. I was fine either way with playing today. … It turned out that I was able to be there in the end, so it all worked out.”
Gurriel, who entered in the ninth as a defensive replacement, singled to left off Lou Trivino (7-8) to score Jason Castro, who had singled starting the inning and took third on Yordan Álvarez’s one-out double.
Gurriel said he wasn’t prepared to hit on Sunday and hadn’t taken a swing all day before the at bat, but he had a positive mindset to get a hit.
“He didn’t sit on it,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker, who claimed he predicted to bench coach Joe Espada the previous inning that “Yuli is going to win this game. Walkoff."
Astros teammate Michael Brantley went 0 for 2 and finished at .311.
Houston went 95-67 and opens the Division Series at home Thursday against the Central champion Chicago White Sox.
Oakland was 86-76, finishing nine games back of the Astros in third place.
(Photo: Getty Images)