Thursday, August 22, 2013

#63 Al Osuna

About the Front: Al Osuna is wearing those old-fashioned baseball cleats with the tongues that flop over the laces. I had a pair just like them in Little League.

About the Back: Eight and two-thirds innings of relief in one game. Who says that college coaches abuse their pitchers' arms?

Triple Play:

1. He earned his first career win with two scoreless relief innings against the Dodgers on September 4, 1990. Mark Portugal put his team in a 7-0 hole after just two innings, but Osuna and four other Houston relievers held LA to a single run over the final seven frames. The Astro bats put up a 10-spot by scoring in each inning from the fourth through the eighth to complete the comeback.

2. Al got an unusual save and his only career run batted in on July 17, 1991 against the Pirates. The lefty entered the game as part of a double-switch with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, a runner on first, and the Astros leading 5-2. He retired Bobby Bonilla on a fly ball to left. After Houston added a run in the top of the eighth, Osuna stayed on and retired the side (including Barry Bonds) in order. Thanks to the double-switch, Al batted in the #3 slot formerly occupied by Jeff Bagwell, and thus came to the plate in the top of the ninth with runners on the corners and one out. He swung away and grounded the ball to Pittsburgh second baseman Jose Lind, who booted the ball, allowing Ken Oberkfell to score. Since a double play can't be assumed, Al got the RBI. He later scored on a Ken Caminiti two-run single that padded the Astros' lead to 10-2. Osuna then earned the save with a scoreless bottom of the ninth, having preserved what ultimately was an eight-run margin.

3. Osuna did not have the long career that might have been suggested by his early big league success. After posting a 3.20 ERA in 44 appearances out of the Houston bullpen in 1993, he totaled just 12.2 innings in 25 games with the Dodgers (1994) and Padres (1996).

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I wasn't a big hip-hop fan, or else I might have associated this guy with Naughty by Nature. "Hip hop hooray, ho, A.O.!" (Don't worry. I haven't given up my day job for a career in comedy yet.)

Bill James Said: (Regarding his demotion to AAA Tucson to start the 1993 season.) "On return he pitched better, allowing only 5 of 44 inherited runners to score, the best percentage in the National League."

On This Date in 1993: August 22. Jack McDowell wins his 20th game of the season in style, scattering eight hits and striking out ten batters in a 1-0 complete-game shutout of the Twins. Jim Deshaies holds the White Sox to three hits in eight innings himself, but is a hard-luck loser thanks to Frank Thomas' first-inning solo home run, his 33rd of the 1993 campaign.

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