Back in August during a radio interview Tigers manager Jim Leyland accused the A’s of stealing signs:
I still think that they were getting something somewhere. I’m just not believing. I know we made a lot of bad pitches, but I just don’t believe you wear the ball out like that. I’ve seen a lot of games and a lot of series and I’ve seen teams get hot, but I’m a little suspicious that somewhere along the line they were getting something somewhere.
He later backed off those comments, at least publicly, but obviously the A’s still remember. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle followed up on the topic before the two teams match up in the ALDS and here’s what Josh Donaldson told her:
We haven’t stolen a single sign all year. We don’t have a guy in here who even wants a sign–some teams will steal pitch location and we don’t even do that. We laugh when catchers are changing signs because we don’t want them, anyway.
Of course, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player who says “yeah, we’re constantly stealing signs and everyone on the team would love to have that help all the time.” And if the A’s knock around one of the Tigers’ stud starting pitchers during this series you can be sure Leyland will be asked to revisit the sign-stealing quotes.
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.