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Justin Verlander, Brad Ausmus suspect Indians of stealing signs

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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.

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.