Punching his club's ticket to a postseason berth, an Astros star refused to hit the brakes this week with an unstoppable offensive performance. In Milwaukee, a young star racking up awards may need to clear more shelf space for valuable hardware. For their efforts, the Astros' Yuli Gurriel and the
Punching his club's ticket to a postseason berth, an Astros star refused to hit the brakes this week with an unstoppable offensive performance. In Milwaukee, a young star racking up awards may need to clear more shelf space for valuable hardware. For their efforts, the Astros' Yuli Gurriel and the Brewers' Christian Yelich were recognized on Monday as the American League and National League Players of the Week, presented by W.B. Mason.
Gurriel swatted two home runs with a career-high seven RBIs on Friday to lead the Astros to their third playoff spot in four seasons with an 11-3 win over the Angels. The first of Gurriel's two homers was a first-inning grand slam that went a projected 368 feet into the right-field seats at Minute Maid Park. The rocket marked Gurriel's third career grand slam and second of the season, also tying a single-season franchise record (2001, '07) as Houston's seventh slam of the year.
• Past winners:AL | NL
In addition to his first Player of the Week honor, Gurriel took part in another first this week with help from his younger brother. Blue Jays shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Yuli each hit two home runs in their first two at-bats on Friday night, marking the first time in Major League history that a pair of brothers has accomplished that feat in the same day. Going 12-for-26, Gurriel slashed .462/.462/.923 with a 1.385 OPS, three home runs, 10 RBIs, three doubles and eight runs scored over his past six games for the Astros. Following Friday's clinch, Houston gathered around to make a toast and celebrate another postseason journey.
"I'm very happy we were able to make that toast, and we were able to unite at that moment and be able to clinch for the playoffs," said Gurriel.
Yelich garnered his third career Player of the Week honor, and second of September, while emerging as the favorite for the NL MVP Award. Yelich opened the week with his second career cycle, becoming the fifth player in Major League history to achieve the feat twice in the same season and the first to do it twice against the same team -- the Reds. In both cycles, Yelich needed a triple -- and got it.
With two men on base on Sunday, the 26-year-old outfielder hit his 32nd home run of the season a projected 439 feet into the last row of PNC Park's right-center-field seats. It was Yelich's second-longest homer of the season, and he leads the NL in batting average (.322), slugging (.577) and OPS (.968) entering Monday.
The 2014 Gold Glove Award winner helped Milwaukee keep pace in the NL Central race, as the Brewers trail the Cubs by 2 1/2 games. The Brewers lead the Cardinals by two games for the top spot in the NL Wild Card race, with a magic number of four to clinch a postseason berth. Yelich slashed .545/.615/1.091 with a 1.706 OPS, two homers, seven RBIs, three walks, four doubles, a triple, two stolen bases and seven runs scored across his past six games. Yelich is making so much noise that he received an NL MVP Award endorsement from Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield on Thursday.
"When our team's in it and we have so much at stake every night, it's easier to separate the two," Yelich said to reporters regarding his bid for the NL MVP Award. "In your head, you don't have it carry over because we're so focused on our team goals, what we have to go out and accomplish as a team and what we're on the brink of -- being able to clinch a postseason spot."
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.