Hard to K: Gurriel chasing postseason record

November 3rd, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- Put the bat on the ball and good things tend to happen. Yuli Gurriel would certainly agree.

Gurriel stroked a run-scoring single as part of a five-run fifth inning in Wednesday’s historic 5-0 Astros win over the Phillies in Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park, extending his streak to 46 plate appearances without a strikeout this postseason.

“Contact is huge in the World Series,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I have faith in Yuli because Yuli's been on the world stage even before he got here. You're on the world stage in Cuba; anybody that's ever been to Cuba, you’ve got to play to eat.”

When Gurriel popped out to end the seventh inning, he surpassed Baker’s string of 46 plate appearances for the 1981 Dodgers to claim the fifth-longest streak of plate appearances without a K to begin a postseason, behind Joey Cora (51, 1995), David Eckstein (50, 2006), Gurriel (48, 2019) and Tim Foli (48, 1979).

Yet the most memorable moment of Gurriel’s evening did not take place with a bat in his hands. He was on the receiving end of the throw from third baseman Alex Bregman that retired J.T. Realmuto, sealing the second no-hitter (and first combined no-no) in World Series play.

Bregman was asked when he began thinking about the possibility of a no-hitter. 

“When Yuli caught the ball at first base to end it, to be honest,” Bregman said. “I promise you every single person in the dugout just wanted one thing today and that was to win.”

Along the way, Gurriel’s current streak has seen him extend his record for most World Series hits by a Cuban-born player (26). Gurriel surpassed Hall of Famer Tony Pérez (23) with a second-inning single in Houston’s Game 3 loss.

Pérez played in four World Series (1970, ’72, ’75, ’76) with the Reds and one with the Phillies (‘83), collecting 23 hits in 27 games.

Gurriel is playing in his fourth World Series (2017, ’19, ’21, ’22). He surpassed Pérez’s mark in his 22nd game.

“I just knew that Yuli was going to come through for us,” Baker said. “He's worked hard. He kept his head straight. That was a big fifth run, because you always want to play for that fifth run to keep them out of [grand] slam reach.”