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.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.