Cheaters & Beaters

Rough day for the Astros.

First, news broke that they’re being investigated by MLB for possibly cheating during ALCS Game 2 at Fenway on Sunday. Apparently, a man named Kyle McLaughlin was in a restricted area without the proper credentials, taking photos and sending texts. He claims to be an Astros employee, and has been photographed before with team owner Jim Crane, to whom he apparently has a personal connection.

McLaughlin was also seen engaging in shady behavior by security during the Astros-Indians ALDS, and news broke tonight that the Indians have filed an official complaint with MLB over Houston allegedly trying to film their dugout during the series. Ahead of the ALCS, Cleveland also warned the Red Sox of their opponent’s possible misconduct.

This is the third official investigation into cheating allegations against Houston this year; the Oakland A’s filed a complaint with the league in August when they suspected Astros players were stealing signs and relaying them to pitchers in the batter’s box.

But the supposed cheating doesn’t even appear to be working, since Houston lost 7-5 Sunday night, which makes it all the more ridiculous.

And now, they’ve dropped Game 3 at home. But it’s how they lost that really makes it delicious. Roberto Osuna, yes, the same Roberto Osuna who was suspended 75 games for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy earlier this season, literally threw the game away.

With two outs and two on, Osuna hit Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland to load the bases and walk in a run. And then, he gave up a grand slam to JBJ. A five-run 8th inning courtesy of one of the most hated men in baseball, a player Dave Dombrowski said the Sox ‘never even considered signing,’ despite the bullpen woes that have plagued Boston for most of the season.

The Astros, meanwhile, faced extreme backlash from the media, fans, and their own players as they scooped up Osuna. As Zachary D. Rymer of Bleacher Report said today, “The Astros didn’t look at Osuna and see a toxic asset. They looked and saw a marked-down item.” And they hoped that him pitching well in October would justify and forgive them trading for a player who violates their “zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.”

But in exactly the type of high-leverage situation for which the Astros risked their dignity and reputation to get him, Roberto Osuna failed them spectacularly.

His final line: .2 IP, 2 hit batsmen, 3 hits, 5 earned runs, and the Red Sox’s 11th grand slam of the season. It’s the first grand slam Osuna has ever allowed.

 

It was one of those moments that reaffirms my faith in the universe, karma, and justice. For thousands of people around the country – myself included – Osuna’s presence in baseball brings up unpleasant and traumatic memories. I didn’t want to see him strike out batters in the postseason, no matter which team he was facing; like Aroldis Chapman in 2016, Osuna doesn’t deserve the glory that comes with postseason victory.

This all makes the Houston Astros look pathetic, a word probably never used before to describe a reigning championship team. I called them desperate for signing Osuna in the first place, and now cheating in the postseason? What a bad look for one of the “best teams in baseball.” Or maybe this is how they won last year, too. The Dodgers also believed the Astros were stealing signs during the 2017 World Series. And Jose Altuve homering three times in the first game of the 2017 ALDS is a bit too good to be true, especially when the opposing pitcher is Chris Sale.

On the plus side, a great night for Boston, who now lead the ALCS two games to one and are undefeated on the road this postseason.

Houston, on the other hand, has some problems.

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