HOUSTON -- Minute Maid Park had experienced this kind of stunned silence before. If you’ve followed the Astros for any length of time, you remember Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hitting a go-ahead homer off Brad Lidge to win Game 5 of the 2005 National League Championship Series.
Even though the Astros came back in Game 6 to beat the Cards and advance to the World Series for the first time in their history, Lidge never lived down Pujols’ towering shot. The homer surrendered by Houston closer Roberto Osuna on Saturday night in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series won’t carry quite the same significance.
That’s because Astros second baseman José Altuve hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning -- moments after Osuna gave up a two-run homer to DJ LeMahieu of the Yankees in the top of the inning -- to send Houston to a dramatic 6-4 win in Game 6 of the ALCS and into the World Series.
“I was feeling terrible,” Osuna said. “I had good numbers against the Yankees. I wasn’t expecting this tonight. At the end of the day it’s about winning and that’s what we did tonight.”
Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Gio Urshela in the ninth before striking out Brett Gardner. LeMahieu hit a 3-2 fastball on the 10th pitch of his at-bat and sailed it just over the right-field wall and the glove of leaping right fielder George Springer to tie the game.
“That was a battle,” Osuna said. “I don't really feel bad about the pitch I made because that’s the pitch I got him out in New York. He just put a good swing on it and the rest you guys know.”
Osuna became the sixth Astros pitcher to blow a save in a potential series-clinching playoff game, joining Tony Sipp (2015 AL Division Series), Lidge (2005 NLCS), Chad Qualls (2004 NLDS), Ken Forsch (1980 NLCS) and Dave Smith (1980 NLCS).
The home run was also the first game-tying blast in the ninth inning or later of a playoff game in which the team was facing elimination since Astro Billy Hatcher’s 14th-inning homer in Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS in the Astrodome against the Mets, who eventually won the game in 16 innings.
Unlike Lidge, Osuna was able to eventually smile after giving up his dramatic homer.
“That was a terrible feeling,” he said. “I felt terrible. When Altuve hit the homer, obviously I came back to life and pretty excited right now.”