John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 26, 2018 12:19AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 26, 2018 12:30AM EDT
TORONTO — Roberto Osuna and John Gibbons were both integral parts of the Toronto Blue Jays’ runs to the American League Championship Series in 2015 and 2016. Two years after those post-seasons and the receptions they get at Rogers Centre could not be more different.
Osuna was loudly booed by the 28,440 at Rogers Centre for every pitch as he closed out the Houston Astros’ 4-1 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. His 20th save of the year came hours after Crown attorneys in a Toronto courtroom dropped domestic abuse charges against him.
Prosecutors agreed to close the case after Osuna promised to stay away from the alleged victim — the mother of his child — for one year and continue counselling.
“When I came into the game I was focused on what I had to do, so it didn’t affect me,” said Osuna through a translator. “I’m very happy to see my old teammates again and also to come back to the city where I started my career.
“I just want to thank the fans who have supported me during this time.”
Osuna, formerly the Blue Jays closer, was charged with assault in May. The 23-year-old was suspended without pay for 75 games for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, and Toronto dealt him to Houston on July 30.
Prosecutor Catherine Mullaly said on Tuesday that the complainant, Alejandra Roman Cota, had made it clear she would not return to Toronto to testify against Osuna.
Alex Bregman’s two-run homer gave Houston the lead and the Astros (100-57) held on for the win. Josh James (2-0) gave up one run on four hits over five innings of work and then Houston’s bullpen shut the door the rest of the way. Tony Sipp, Collin McHugh, Ryan Pressly, Hector Rondon combined for three innings of scoreless relief before Osuna came in.
Billy McKinney’s solo homer was all the Blue Jays (71-87) could muster for starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio (3-9), who allowed four runs — three earned — on six hits over five innings. He was followed out of the bullpen by Jose Fernandez, Danny Barnes, David Paulino, Mark Leiter, Jr., and Taylor Guerrieri.
Every time Gibbons returned to the dugout from a mound visit fans would give him a standing ovation. It’s widely believed that this is Gibbons’ final season in Toronto after earning a 555-541 record over two stints with the ballclub and leading the Blue Jays to the ALCS twice.
“I’m a media darling,” said Gibbons with a wink. “The bad part is that I’ve been going out to the mound a lot the last couple of days. Tomorrow we’ve got a bullpen day, so I’ll be out I’m sure a few times.
“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s nice of the fans. I usually walk with my head down, a little embarrassed.”
Bregman got the defending World Series champion Astros on the board quickly, launching a 3-2 pitch from Gaviglio over the left-field wall, bringing home George Springer for a 2-0 lead.
“Honestly, I’m probably going to head to the hotel, grab some Oakley goggles out of my bag, put them on, and as the Birdman song says ‘start with straight shots and then pop bottles,”‘ said Bergman, referring to the rapper Birdman’s 2007 hit song “Pop Bottles.”
McKinney replied for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the third, hitting a solo home run to deep right field with two out. It was McKinney’s sixth home run of his rookie season.
Tyler White tacked another run on for Houston in the sixth when his base hit brought in Marwin Gonzalez and chased Gaviglio from the game. Fernandez came on with runners on first and second and no outs.
Josh Reddick was the next Astro at bat and he hit what should have been an easy fly ball, but Toronto outfielders Jonathan Davis and McKinney collided chasing and the ball bounced away from them.
That loaded the bases for pinch hitter Evan Gattis, whose sacrifice fly allowed Yuli Gurriel to score.
Notes: Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez had surgery on his right index finger earlier on Tuesday, ending his season. The righty has struggled with blisters and nail-related issues the past two seasons. … Toronto rookie shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr., was also shut down for the year with a Grade 2 hamstring strain.