However, after a 17-year career in Cuba and Japan before joining the Astros late last season he's one of the team's most experienced players, and he showed it by fighting through an at-bat with Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to get a two-run double to lift Houston to a 7-6 victory Saturday night.
Gurriel also hit a two-run homer in the fifth before capping Houston's scoring in its four-run eighth.
The Astros trailed 6-3 in the eighth before Jose Altuve walked with one out before stealing second and third and scoring on a groundout by Carlos Correa. Evan Gattis then connected off Dellin Betances (3-3) on a towering shot to the train tracks atop left field to cut the lead to 6-5.
Carlos Beltran walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Josh Reddick, who reached second on an error by first baseman Chris Carter before stealing third. Marwin Gonzalez walked to chase Betances, who was replaced by Chapman.
There was a full count when Gurriel shot a grounder down the left field line to send both runners home and put Houston on top 7-6.
"He was incredibly patient and I think it shows his maturity as a baseball player," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I know he's a rookie so to speak ... in the States, but that was as mature an at-bat you can get in that situation ... for him to literally sit there and be patient and wait for a pitch to hit until the count got deep, it was a really special at-bat."
Gurriel said he faced Chapman in Cuba, but that it was different because the closer was a starter back then.
"He's one of the best closers in the game right now," Gurriel said in Spanish through an interpreter. "So for me to get in that at-bat and get a big hit it was really important."
Chapman said he didn't think Gurriel's hit had anything to do with the pair having so much history together.
"He had good contact there," Chapman said in Spanish through an interpreter. "I think his mind was set to hit something inside, fast, so I think he was looking for it."
Gurriel, who finished with three hits, ended the game when he tagged out Brett Gardner at first after the Yankees outfielder tried to get back to first base after making too wide a turn on a single to left center with two outs.
Dayan Diaz (1-1) allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth for the win and Ken Giles pitched a scoreless ninth for his 19th save.
Correa had a solo homer in the sixth.
Didi Gregorius hit his first career grand slam to put the Yankees up 5-2 in the sixth and rookie Clint Frazier had two hits and a solo homer in his major league debut. Frazier is the first Yankee since 1913 to double and homer in his first major league game.
An RBI single by Gary Sanchez cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth before the grand slam by Gregorius put the Yankees on top 5-2 and gave them a grand slam in two straight games after Gardner hit one in a 13-4 win on Friday.
Rookie Jordan Montgomery yielded five hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Martes allowed four hits and two runs with seven strikeouts in five-plus innings.
The game was scoreless in the bottom of the fifth when Gurriel's homer to the front row of the seats in left field made it 2-0.
Yankees: Manager Joe Girardi said LHP CC Sabathia, who has been on the DL since June 14 with a strained left hamstring, could start Tuesday. ... RHP Adam Warren (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Sunday and could come off the DL early next week.
Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (pinched nerve in neck) played catch on Saturday, but the Astros still don't have a timetable for when he'll begin throwing off the mound. ... RHP Charlie Morton (strained back muscle) will make one more rehabilitation start in the minors before rejoining the team next week in Toronto. Morton has made two starts at Triple-A Fresno and his last rehabilitation start will be at Double-A Corpus Christi on Sunday. ... Third-base coach Gary Pettis will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on July 5 and will be away from the team until after the All-Star break. Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco will fill in while he's out.
The Astros had two doubles on Saturday to give them at least one in a franchise-record 39 straight games. The previous record of 38 was set from July 27-Sept. 6 1977. It is the longest such streak since the Pirates doubled in 44 straight games in 2008.
THEY SAID IT
Betances on his night: "These guys fought to come back in this game. Montgomery had a good start. Hitters did what they did. I didn't do my job, and that's the reason we lost."
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA) will start for New York on Sunday. Severino allowed six hits and one run while striking out a career-high 12 in seven innings of his last start, but did not factor into the decision in New York's 4-3 loss to the White Sox.
Astros: Mike Fiers (5-3, 3.98 ERA) is scheduled to start for Houston on Sunday. He allowed four hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Oakland on Tuesday.
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