Yuli Gurriel on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. fight for AL batting title

OAKLAND – With one week to go to the end of the regular season, two Astros players are in contention for the American League batting title. First baseman Yuli Gurriel and outfielder Michael Brantley both averaged 0.315 on Sunday, which was tied for second in the league behind Torontonian Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with his 0.317 average.

Brantley is on the injured list with knee pain and the Astros are hoping to get him back before the end of the season. Brantley needs another nine appearances at home to reach 502, which is necessary to qualify for the title at bat. Gurriel was in the lineup on Sunday, hoping to continue his ascent. He’s had multiple hits in eight of his previous 13 games, hitting 0.365 (19 v 52) in that span to make a push.

“I would like [win it]”Said Gurriel.” It’s really a big deal to win a title at batting, especially here in the big leagues. It really is a big deal.

Gurriel won a batting title in his final year in the Serie Nacional de Cuba in the 2015-16 season, averaging 0.500 (87 for 174). He said he has come close a few other times in Cuba, mainly playing 12 seasons for Sancti Spiritus (2001-12). Gurriel’s resurgence comes after hitting just 0.232 in last year’s cropped season.

“You always feel a little bit of pressure, but I try not to think about it and not pay too much attention to it so that I can do the best job.” [I can] and let it flow on the ground there, ”he said.

Gurriel knows Guerrero very well, along with Gurriel’s younger brother, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a key member of the Blue Jays.

“He’s a great hitter,” Yuli said of Guerrero. “He’s been doing really well all year and has stayed the course all year. I have to give him a lot of credit for what he did.

Gurriel said Guerrero’s teammates with the Blue Jays are causing him grief for 37-year-old Gurriel, who has pushed in the fight for a batting title.

“They always joke about it all the time, telling him, ‘Hey, the old man is catching up with you,’ Gurriel said. ‘It’s fun and games, and that’s who I am.’

The only Astros player to win a batting title is Jose Altuve, who has done it three times (2014, 2016-17). Altuve said he was not surprised that Gurriel was able to bounce back from last year’s “strange year” and that he wants him to join him as the Houston batting title winner.

“I’m still rooted for him,” Altuve said. “First of all, we play for the same team and because he’s a good teammate, a good person off the pitch. I think he deserves everything that happens to him.

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