LOS ANGELES – The crowd at Dodger Stadium booed long and loud when Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel came up to the plate in the first inning of Wednesday’s Game 7 of the World Series, much like fans did in every one of his at-bats Tuesday.
And just like Rich Hill had done in Game 6, Los Angeles Dodgers starter Yu Darvish took his time stepping on the rubber, letting the jeering prolong and sink in. The Japan-born Darvish, after all, had been the subject of the slanted-eyes gesture Gurriel made after homering off him in Game 3, and he had every reason to be insulted.
Then Gurriel did something unexpected, especially for someone getting bombarded with such scorn: He took his helmet off and tipped it in Darvish’s direction, in a clear sign of apology.
Yuli Gurriel tips his helmet towards Yu Darvish before his at-bat. pic.twitter.com/IotpfddcrY— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) November 2, 2017
Gurriel had been contrite since learning the gesture was caught on camera, leading to Commissioner Rob Manfred suspending him for five games at the start of next season. Gurriel had expressed a desire to apologize personally to Darvish, whose conciliatory response was a factor in Manfred opting not to banish the Cuban native during the World Series.
But it’s not known whether the players had met or exchanged any communication before Wednesday’s winner-take-all game. Regardless, Gurriel found a way to deliver his message in a uniquely baseball fashion.
Once that was done, they went on about the business of playing the game, and Gurriel put on remarkable display of concentration as he battled Darvish for 13 pitches before flying out to right field.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday he’d never heard the kind of sustained, loud booing that was directed at Gurriel the previous night, adding that the 33-year-old rookie was holding up fairly well under the circumstances.
“He's still sorry. He's still regretful. He's still remorseful,’’ Hinch said. “He's still got a penalty to pay. Sports will bring out a lot of emotions. So he'll show up ready to play tonight and, again, we'll try to rectify what happened over time.’’