HOUSTON – Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who left Game 5 of the World Series early with a right knee injury, has been pulled from the lineup with a right MCL sprain and was replaced by rookie catcher Korey Lee. Houston manager Dusty Baker said Gurriel ran onto the field early Saturday to test his knee.
Dr. Gary Green, the medical director of Major League Baseball, confirmed the injury after contacting the examining physician. MLB’s postseason rules provide that a team may request permission from the Commissioner’s Office to replace a player who is unable to play due to injury.
“[Gurriel] he tried everything,” Baker said. “He came in yesterday for treatment, he came in this morning for treatment and he didn’t respond well enough to play. He tried to run, and coming from a guy with a knee injury, the hardest thing to do is stop and get around the bases and have lateral movement. He tried everything. He wasn’t crying but he had tears in his eyes. You could see how he wanted to play. He couldn’t do that, and we had to replace him.”
With the third catcher in their lineup, the Astros started Christian Vázquez at designated hitter in Game 6, with Martín Maldonado behind the plate. Lee, who hit .160 in 12 games for Houston this year, was on the team’s playoff team. Baker said he thought about hitting Vázquez at DH several times this year. He only did it once because he didn’t want to take the chance of one of the two starters getting hurt.
“No. 1, he’s a communicator,” Baker said of Vázquez. “There’s a lot of things I could do with him. I did it at one point as a sight test. I wanted to do it a couple of times, but I didn’t want to, when something happened to Maldy … I really didn’t want to.” putting my team in a position where I was going to lose. [the] DH and put a pitcher in there and hit a pitcher and go back to my National League days with only a four-man bench. “
Gurriel injured his knee in the seventh inning of Game 5 when he was fouled by Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins during a run. The injury followed the end of Gurriel’s impressive streak of 48 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout this postseason, which ended in the fourth inning against Connor Brogdon.
Gurriel, who caught the last out in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series win over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, was hitting .347 (17-for-49) with two homers and four RBI in the postseason, including 6-for-19 with one RBI in the World Series. Trey Mancini took his place at first base in Game 5 and made a great play to catch Kyle Schwarber at first base.
“Yuli is one of our best hitters in the postseason, obviously, it hurts not having him,” center fielder Chas McCormick said. “But we have guys who know their role, and we’re confident in whoever is going to be in that lineup. We have a lot of good hitters in this team.”
Astros Game 6 starter Framber Valdez has the highest strikeout rate in MLB and Gurriel is an excellent defender, who won the Gold Glove Award last year. So it stands to reason that there will be more opportunities for Mancini at first. Baker said Mancini initially had the most experience in the position.
“It’s Mancini’s time to shine,” Baker said.