Angels Fans Throw Garbage Cans onto Field Against Houston Astros

If the Houston Astros thought the animosity towards them had died down over the course of a shortened regular season played behind closed doors, they were given a brusque wake-up call as fans returned to MLB ballparks for the beginning of the current campaign.

On Monday night, both an inflatable garbage can and a real garbage can made their way onto the field at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California, during the Astros' 7-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

With the Astros leading 5-3 at the end of the sixth inning, a life-sized inflatable garbage can was launched onto the warning track from over the right-field scoreboard. Shortly afterward, as Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was up to bat, a real garbage can landed almost in the same place.

Garbage cans and the Astros have been inextricably linked for over a year amid a major sign-stealing scandal that rocked baseball to its core.

In November 2019, The Athletic revealed the team had illegally used technology to decipher their opponents' signs during the 2017 season and during part of the following campaign.

The signs were then relayed to Houston batters in real time by banging on a garbage can.

Fans really threw an inflatable trash can on the field in the middle of the Astros-Angels game.

Good lord 🤣 pic.twitter.com/FeZiQGRc2v

— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) April 6, 2021

This trash can was thrown one pitch before José Altuve struck out. pic.twitter.com/p5T8N5dPOf

— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) April 6, 2021

The Astros have been enemy number one for fans of the other 29 franchises ever since and while they largely escaped public wrath last season, the return of spectators to ballparks has reignited an animosity that had never really petered out.

While general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for the ultimately shortened 2020 season, Astros players escaped punishment.

The decision to exonerate players was particularly surprising as in a report published in January last year, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred indicated the scheme to steal signs was "player-driven."

José Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel, who were among the central figures of the Astros team that won the World Series in 2017, were met with deafening boos from Angels fans.

The Astros had received a similar welcome in Oakland, California, over the weekend and can expect much of the same across most ballparks this season.

"You can tell the amount of hostility and the amount of hatred in the stands," Astros manager Dusty Baker told ESPN after the game.

"How many in the stands have never done anything wrong in their life? We paid the price for it. How many people have not cheated on a test or whatever at some point in time. I mean it's easy if you live in glass houses, but I don't think anybody lives in glass houses.

"I think that sometimes we need to look at ourselves before you spew hate on somebody else. It's a sad situation for America, to me, when you hear things—I mean what are the kids supposed to think in the stands? And some of them are kids that are following their parents. It's sad to me. People make mistakes. We paid for ours, and I wish they'd leave it alone."

Astros catcher Martin Maldonado, however, urged his teammates to use the jeering and booing as a motivation.

"We go out there to play a game, and the fans, they do whatever they want," he said. "They're gonna be loud. But I think that gives us a little bit more motivation. We feel like we're in the playoffs in the fifth game of the season."

To make matters worse for the Astros, they let a two-run lead slip in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Albert Pujols, Jose Iglesias, Shohei Ohtani and David Fletcher all scored to give the Angels a 7-5 lead.

Los Angeles Angels
A member of the Los Angeles Angels grounds crew removes an inflated plastic trash can thrown on to the field during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 5 in Anaheim, California. Harry How/Getty Images