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Osuna gets win in return from suspension, Astros top Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Roberto Osuna needed five pitches for a clean inning and a nice on-field impression on his new teammates.

Osuna earned the win in his first appearance with Houston after Marwin Gonzalez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting the Astros over the San Francisco Giants 3-1 on Monday night.

Osuna (1-0) hadn’t pitch in the majors since May 6 while serving a 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. The former Blue Jays closer was arrested and charged with assaulting his girlfriend May 8 in Toronto. Few details have been made public, and the next court date in the case is scheduled for Sept. 5.

“Especially like being in such a great team with great teammates, it’s easy to forget about the stuff that’s going on off the field, and being able to play and help the team win is unbelievable,” Osuna said. “I really like my teammates. They’ve been treating me with a lot of respect, and I’m really comfortable.”

Osuna was acquired from Toronto last Monday in a deal that sent back closer Ken Giles, and he became eligible to pitch Sunday . A few fans booed when he entered the game in the eighth inning, and Osuna calmly retired the side in order.

“It was a quick look obviously with five pitches,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s got a good arm. First game back is always important, it’s the next step for him to get incorporated into our games, coming away with the win. A good first impression on the field.”

Hector Rondon closed out the 2-hour, 26-minute game with his 12th save in 15 chances.

San Francisco closer Will Smith (1-2) blew his second save in nine opportunities after issuing walks to Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel. Gonzalez followed with a towering drive to left for his 10th homer.

Brandon Crawford hit a solo homer in the sixth inning, but San Francisco failed to do enough to back rookie Dereck Rodriguez‘s latest gem.

The two starters had a nice duel but nothing to show for it.

Rodriguez struck out seven with no walks and allowed three hits in seven innings. Charlie Morton, a 12-game winner, struck out eight over seven innings with three walks and three hits as Houston dropped a second straight one-run game after a four-game winning streak. He suffered his first defeat in five starts since a loss at Tampa Bay on July 1.

The Giants lost for just the third time on days Rodriguez starts – and this marked just his 11th in the big leagues. The son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez has quickly emerged as one of the top rookies in the National League.

Rodriguez has allowed three or fewer runs in 10 of his starts.

“I take it in after every start. I enjoy it, I think about it a lot of the time but when I’m out there it’s just me, Buster (Posey) and the hitter, whoever’s hitting, so I think that’s what’s helped me get to the point where I’m at, my concentration when I’m in the game,” Rodriguez said. “It’s awesome being in the situation I’m in.”

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.