In a pivotal Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, a complete meltdown from one of MLB’s most scrutinized players left the Houston Astros with nothing but regret and a 2-1 series deficit against the Boston Red Sox.
The Astros were widely lambasted for acquiring closer Roberto Osuna at the trade deadline this season despite a reported zero-tolerance policy for domestic abuse, something for which Osuna was suspended by MLB and was awaiting trial in Canadian courts at the time. The team still acquired him, because it wanted to bolster its bullpen for the playoffs.
And yet, in the high-leverage situation the Astros acquired Osuna to handle, the justification for Osuna’s spot on a playoff team disintegrated in just three batters.
Roberto Osuna’s bad, bad inning
Osuna entered the eighth inning with the Astros down 3-2 and having not pitched in a game since Game 2 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, a span of 10 days. He quickly found himself with two men on and two outs, and then the right-hander completely fell to pieces.
First, Osuna got an 0-2 count against Brock Holt, but then hit Holt with an errant slider to load the bases. He moved ahead 1-2 against Mitch Moreland in the next at-bat, but then hit Moreland with an errant four-seamer to give Boston an easy run that doubled its lead.
With the game in danger of falling out of reach, Osuna worked a 1-1 count against Jackie Bradley Jr. The outfielder launched the next pitch, a high-and-inside fastball, into the right-field stands for a grand slam.
Osuna didn’t find any fault with the pitch he threw to Bradley after the game.
Roberto Osuna said the pitch to Jackie Bradley Jr. is "a pitch I always get him out with."
"He hit it today but, I mean, I will go there 100 more times.”
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) October 17, 2018
Collin McHugh was immediately brought in to relieve Osuna, who left with a pitching line of 2/3 innings, three hits, five earned runs, two hit-by-pitches and one massive home run.
It wasn’t the outcome the Astros were expecting when they made the highly questionable decision to bring in the then-suspended Blue Jays closer. And it was probably the sort of outcome that quite a few of Osuna’s many detractors were hoping for.
It's such an incomparably minimal "punishment" for Osuna's crimes, but this inning is cathartic.
— Mary Craig (@marymcraig) October 17, 2018
Where does Osuna’s meltdown leave the Astros?
Down 2-1 against the Red Sox with two games in Houston to play, then possibly two in Boston, the Astros now find themselves trying to come back against a 108-win team for a trip to the World Series.
Such a deficit isn’t insurmountable, but also not enviable when you look at the fates of other teams in their position.
Advantage, @RedSox In the history of best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format, teams that win Game 3 on the road to grab a 2-1 advantage have gone on to take the series 27 of 36 times (75 percent).
— Richard Justice (@richardjustice) October 17, 2018
As for Osuna, Bradley’s grand slam just might make the decision to acquire the suspended closer a little harder for the Astros to explain to themselves if the rest of the ALCS doesn’t go their way.
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