The Pallilog

Charlie Pallilo: Interesting week for Astros, on and off the field

Jeff Luhnow was in the spotlight this week. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Interesting week for the Astros on and off the field with the top headline grabber being General Manager Jeff Luhnow’s trade for relief pitcher Roberto Osuna. Luhnow has done masterful work in building the Astros to World Series Champion and continued elite status. His justification for the Osuna deal is not part of that masterful work. Some of Luhnow’s words were self-serving and of questionable merit. Now, I am not vehemently disgusted with the Astros acquiring Osuna. Once his MLB suspension for violating the collectively bargained domestic violence policy expires this weekend and any debt to society is paid, should Osuna not be allowed to pursue his livelihood?  But this remains an active criminal case. Luhnow functionally pronounced Osuna guilty in stating he believes Osuna is “remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior.”

Osuna ultimately may be found not guilty or have the charges dropped or plead out. The legal system is often about victory and tactics more so than absolute truth and justice. Osuna not contesting a 75 game suspension that cost him about two and a half million dollars in salary basically renders a belief in his innocence somewhere between naive and absurd.

Luhnow’s explanation of “zero tolerance” of domestic violence only applying from when a player joins the Astros’ organization? Come on. Wonder what Jeff’s position would be if say, his daughter had been the victim. It would have been more honorable of Luhnow to say “we have real concerns about our bullpen, we get a talented young guy in Osuna on the cheap, and we’ll deal with any fallout.”

By Luhnow’s rationalization, he should have already signed convicted child molester Luke Heimlich. Heimlich is the Oregon State All-America pitcher who pleaded guilty to actions committed when he was 15 years old.  Heimlich went undrafted in June, and remains unsigned. Hey, his transgressions occurred before Heimlich would be in the Astro organization.

Doesn’t it seem morally askew that a player can get a 75 game suspension for domestic violence and be eligible for the postseason, but a player who ingests the wrong supplement gets 80 games and a postseason ban? That’s how it is. Crimes against baseball are treated more harshly than a crime against humanity.

 

To the much lighter side, while anything can happen in a couple of baseball games, the Astros taking the last two games of their series in Seattle was a nice boost for them, and had to be a dispiriting blow to the Mariners. Monday night the Mariners shutout the Astros to close within three games of them in the American League West. With two more games left in the series, no Jose Altuve or Carlos Correa to face, then in the first inning Tuesday George Springer was lost for the rest of the series, the Mariners had to be thinking sweep this baby and get within one. Instead the Astros won the last two to re-boost their division lead to five games. The Astros’ starting pitching overall remains phenomenal. It is amazing that more than two-thirds of the way through the season they still have only used five different starting pitchers. Lance McCullers is just 24 years old but has not yet gone healthy start-to-finish through a big league season. Charlie Morton has spent time on the disabled list each of the past six years.

The Mariners meanwhile led the A’s by 11 games in mid-June. The last Mariner loss to the Astros coupled with Oakland winning for the 30th time in its last 40 games wiped out the last bit of that lead. The Mariners last made the playoffs in 2001. Their 16 year drought is the longest active in North American major league sports. The Astros could sag and see the division title slip away, but I strongly doubt that, so the more compelling AL West race is to see who plays the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. The Astros are on course for an AL Division Series with the Cleveland Indians.

Big move

I’m not wildly optimistic re: how well Carmelo Anthony will mesh his game with those of Chris Paul and James Harden, but it certainly will be interesting to see how it plays out.  Even if it doesn’t go great, it’s not as if he can shoot worse than the 0 for 12 Trevor Ariza did in game seven against the Warriors. Ariza was a solid pro but simply not good enough to be indispensable. Ditto Luc Mbah a Moute. At minimum the Rockets should be a top five NBA team again.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If Urban Meyer did what it is alleged he did, what a despicable power-sick man.  2. Smart move Texans GM Brian Gaine not giving Jadeveon Clowney a megamillions extension.  3. Best synonyms for steal: Bronze-pilfer Silver-purloin Gold-filch.

 

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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