Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia responded to the Braves’ recent accusations of stealing signs after being swept in a three-game series in Miami. The Marlins outscored the Braves 23-7, a far cry from the four runs they scored when they lost two of three to the Braves in Atlanta earlier in the week.
Braves starter Aaron Harang, who entered the game with a 0.85 ERA but was hammered for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings, said, “It was baffling, like, where were these guys last week? They were way too comfortable. It seemed like they were all hitting like Ted Williams.”
All Salty can do is laugh. Via MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro:
“I think the Marlins have kind of been a punching bag almost for the past few years, because of things that have happened,” said Saltalamacchia, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday. “It doesn’t bother us, as far as we go. We’ve got to go out there and control what we can control.
“At the same time, as a player, you kind of sit back and laugh a little bit. From my perspective, I like it. I think they’re focusing on the wrong things. For them to focus on what we’re doing, and ‘Are we stealing signs? Are we doing this?’ That means they’re not focusing on what they should be focusing on. That kind of gives us an advantage.”
The Braves are certainly not the only team to accuse an opponent of stealing signs. The Rockies accused the Phillies in 2010. The Yankees accused the Blue Jays in 2011. The Orioles accused the Blue Jays again in 2012. The Athletics accused the Yankees last season. But there’s only so much you can do with stolen signs and the Braves’ series sweep at the hands of the Marlins had much more to do with their own poor performance than any edge allegedly gained by impropriety.
But it’s been a common thread with the Braves lately — of blaming others without introspection. They have become the baseball police, arbiters of fun, deciders of “the right way” to play the game. They can only complain so often before everyone starts to tune them out. Perhaps it’s already begun.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.