Yuli Gurriel and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. took the field in two different countries Friday night, roughly 1,500 miles apart. But each of them did what they've done ever since they grew up together in Cuba: Hit with authority.
Each of the Gurriel brothers knocked a pair of home runs, which according to the Elias Sports Bureau made them the first brothers in history with multi-homer performances on the same day. It was a special night for the Gurriels, who starred for the Cuban National team before defecting to the United States in February 2016.
The younger of the two, Lourdes Jr., kicked things off for the Blue Jays with a mammoth first-inning dinger off Rays opener Diego Castillo. Gurriel squared up Castillo's 99.1-mph fastball and drove the pitch a projected 450 feet over the center-field wall at Rogers Centre, marking the longest homer hit off a pitch 99 mph or faster since Statcast™ began tracking homer distances in 2015. It was also the fastest pitch homered on by a Blue Jays player in 2018.
Lourdes, who broke out of a tough slump with a game-tying, two-run tater in his final plate appearance against the Rays on Thursday, homered in his third straight at-bat with a fourth-inning blast off Tampa Bay's Jalen Beeks. Lourdes' second blast was another shot to center field, this time measuring a projected 415 feet per Statcast™.
"I knew when I came back from my injury, sooner or later, I was going to start getting the groove back a little bit," Lourdes told MLB.com on Friday. "I didn't lose confidence at all. I knew I had it in me and I just kept working hard. I was really confident in myself and I see the results now."
Not to be outdone, Yuli began his own assault on the fences shortly after Lourdes' second tater with a first-inning grand slam off Angels starter Andrew Heaney. Yuli's first blast could hardly have been more different than his brother's pair, tucking around the right-field foul pole at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros' first baseman followed up with a two-run homer to left off Heaney in the third, giving him a career-high six RBIs. In the fifth, he added to that total with an RBI single.
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"I'm very happy for us," Yuli said after the Astros clinched a spot in the postseason. "I didn't know we had made a record. And he's having a great season. It was great hearing the news. Sometimes I have good games, sometimes he has a good game, and for us to have a great game together, it was really special."
All told, the Gurriel brothers tallied four homers and nine RBIs in their first six plate appearances of the night, surely making both their family and countrymen proud back in Cuba. Lourdes' teammate and fellow Cuban Kendrys Morales was first to let him know what his older brother was up to in Texas.
"He told me, 'Hey, congratulations,'" said Gurriel. "I just said, 'Thank you.' I thought it was because I hit two homers, but then he told me it was because my brother also hit two homers. I'm happy for him and I'm happy for me, as well."
The Astros made sure Yuli knew what was happening north of the border as well.
"The players were telling me, every time he hit a home run, 'He hit one. You got to do it,'" Yuli said. "The second one happened: 'You got to do it.'"
The Gurriels' big night sets the stage for next week's three-game set between the Astros and Blue Jays beginning Monday in Toronto. That will mark the first time the brothers will face each other on opposite sides of the field since the Blue Jays called up Lourdes in April.
"I'm very happy," Lourdes said, "but I'm also curious, because it's going to be the first time that I'm going to play against him. That's never happened before. It's a little bit weird. I'll see how I'm going to feel that day."