MAKING HIS PITCH

John Granato: How will Astros fans react to Osuna's first home appearance?

Roberto Osuna will likely make his first appearance in a game at Minute Maid this weekend. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Astros are coming home for the first time since the acquisition of Roberto Osuna. It’ll be interesting to see how the fan base reacts when he comes out of the bullpen to pitch for the first time at Minute Maid.

His first appearance as an Astro drew a smattering of boos in San Francisco. But it was San Francisco. I’m not sure they knew about or cared about the controversy enough to boo. Their average rent for a one bedroom is over $3200. It’s hard for them to care about anything else.

What will happen at Minute Maid? Osuna’s ours now. Fan bases stand behind their guys. Milwaukee’s Josh Hader got a standing ovation for his homophobic and racist tweets. Well, I’m not sure he got a standing O because of them but I’m not ruling it out.

I don’t think Osuna will get a standing O here but I’m not ruling that out either. He did have a five pitch outing the other night. That was totally sweet. The problem is that it was in San Francisco at about 11:30 at night. A lot of Astros fans didn’t see it.

It’ll also be interesting to see what the attendance will be like this weekend too. How many people will actually live up to their promise of being done with the Astros? We’ve heard plenty of that over the last week. But it’s easier said than done. Even if you just climbed on board the Astros train last year you’re probably all-in with this team. Osuna aside it’s the most likeable team I can ever remember. They are only adding to that lately with this minor league lineup they are forced to play every night because of all the injuries and yet they’re still winning.

What does it mean if we applaud when Osuna comes in? Like Hader the national media is waiting to pounce on the reaction. Milwaukee got roasted on ESPN for the standing O but that’s what ESPN does. I don’t care what Bill Plaschke thinks of us. We know who we are and what we stand for.

To be clear, I am against domestic violence.

I have been for some time now. I have been an LSU fan for years. My wife went there. My daughter goes there. But they lost me because of how Les Miles handled issues on his team. Jordan Jefferson was seen kicking a marine outside a bar. Jeremy Hill sucker punched a really drunk guy and Jalen Mills was accused of punching a girl in the face so hard he knocked her out. All of these happened without consequences.

I found it hard to root for them anymore. Full disclosure, it coincided with my son playing at the collegiate level so it was easy to push LSU aside. Now that all those guys are gone though it’s more pleasurable to go to LSU games and root for those kids.

And we’ll root for the Astros. It’s going to be hard to watch Osuna and not think about his issue. It’s with him now forever. It’ll never go away and rightfully so. But he doesn’t define what Houston Astros baseball is. It’s exactly the opposite.

For years now we’ve seen guys with checkered pasts join the New England Patriots and tow the line. Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Bryan Cox, Albert Haynesworth, Aqib Talib and so on. That locker room was bigger than their shenanigans. It held them accountable.

In a different way this Astros locker room will hold Roberto Osuna accountable. It’s a bunch of great players and great people. Osuna can’t take back what he did. He can only move forward with the help of his teammates and change the narrative. He will be a better person because he is an Astro.

I’m guessing he’ll get more cheers than boos. I won’t do either. I’ll be with the silent majority. I am not going to stand or applaud. I will have no reaction when Osuna comes in. I don’t want anyone to think I appreciate him for what he allegedly did. I will watch silently and take in your reaction.

I don’t know how big a dilemma this is for you. Everyone has to act as his or her  conscience tells them. Mine tells me to shut up and let this play out. What’s yours telling you?


 

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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