LOS ANGELES – Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel said amid his team’s celebrations that he had made amends for a racial gesture directed at Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish and was thrilled at having won a World Series title in his first complete season in Major League Baseball.
“My first full year as a professional and already having a World Series title. It’s a dream,” the 33-year-old Gurriel said after he and his Astros teammates clinched the franchise’s first World Series title with a 5-1 Game 7 victory Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Gurriel, who defected from Cuba in 2016, credited his experience with the Cuban national team for his success in the big leagues.
The first baseman said the controversy over a racial gesture he made in the dugout during Game 3 – and which led to his being suspended without pay for five games next season – did not affect his performance in the remainder of the fall classic.
Gurriel was seen on television in that Oct. 27 game apparently mocking Darvish in a racist fashion after hitting a home run, pulling at his eyes to slant them and saying “chinito” (little Chinese boy) while laughing with his teammates in the dugout.
“I apologized once again to his people and to him,” said Gurriel, who tipped his hat to Darvish before facing him in the top of the first inning of Game 7.
The Dodgers’ fans were not in a forgiving mood, loudly booing the hitter during his first at-bat.
Darvish, who is of Japanese and Iranian descent, got Gurriel to fly out to right field but otherwise was roughed up by the Astros hitters for the second time in the World Series.
The 31-year-old native of Osaka, Japan, lasted just 1 2/3 innings and gave up all five of the Astros’ runs, including a two-run home run to the last batter he faced: World Series Most Valuable Player George Springer.