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However patient Yuli Gurriel grew this offseason, his best at-bats remain accentuated by an ambush. The free-swinging first baseman feasts on first pitches and fears free passes. Each of the last two seasons ended with Gurriel among the bottom seven major leaguers in walk rate. Neither year saw him eclipse four percent.
Nine walks in his first 29 games suggested a shift. Teammates teased Gurriel that he may approach his career-high 23 walks within the season’s first month.
Such selectiveness sometimes betrays. A hitter can become too particular and get caught in between. To overcorrect and reestablish their numbers, they begin swinging wildly. Gurriel fell victim. Pitchers pounded him inside and, while Gurriel covered that, he could not resist a bevy of breaking balls.
Gurriel entered Monterrey mired in a miserable rut. Five hits in his last 43 at-bats left the charming Cuban “more frustrated” than any of his slumping teammates. Manager A.J. Hinch afforded him an off day earlier this week in Minnesota. It offered no help. Gurriel finished the four-game series 1-for-11.
Technically, these are road games for the Astros. But a quick glance at what was going on in the stands at Estadio de Beisbol on Saturday told a much different story.
Astros fans travel well and, apparently, that extends beyond the U.S. border. Saturday’s game between the Astros and Angels — a 14-2 blowout win by the “road” team — featured, in addition to a potent Houston offense and a solid outing by lefty Wade Miley, a jarring visual throughout the stands.