Tigers starter Justin Verlander continued to struggle against the Indians on Saturday, giving up nine runs over four-plus innings in what turned out to be a 13-6 loss. Over his 13-year career, Verlander has a 4.68 ERA against the Indians, including an aggregate 5.49 ERA since the start of the 2014 season.
Verlander is quite aware of his struggles against the Tribe, as is manager Brad Ausmus. Both seem to think the Indians have been stealing the Tigers’ signs, so the club has been using safeguards. Via Chris McCosky of The Detroit News:
“We went to multiple signs (from catcher James McCann to Verlander) all the time,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We usually do it when there’s a runner on second base. But we’ve been doing it quite a bit – and not just here but against other teams too early in the season.
“Sign stealing has become kind of a new fad in some clubhouses. They look at video. So we are in a constant state of trying to stay a step ahead of those trying to steal signs.”
McCosky also reports that Verlander and McCann studied film for an hour after Saturday’s game, trying to pinpoint exactly what edge the Indians may have picked up.
Sign-stealing isn’t forbidden in baseball’s rules, and it’s a practice that is almost as old as the game itself. The only aspect of sign-stealing that is prohibited is the use of a “mechanical device,” which was clarified nearly two decades ago by Sandy Alderson to include “electronic equipment.” So, the Indians aren’t breaking any rules and the Tigers are just going to have to do what they’ve been doing to find out exactly what edge the Indians have obtained.