Derek Jeter drives in a season-high three runs; Yankees throw one-hitter vs. Orioles

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Derek Jeter began his final home series in style tonight, driving in a season-high three runs in a 5-0 victory over the Orioles. Oh, and in other news, Michael Pineda, Shawn Kelley, Rich Hill, and David Phelps combined for a one-hitter. Hey, it’s easy to get overshadowed by Jeter right now.

Pineda was completely dominant in the win, striking out eight batters while issuing just one walk over 7 1/3 innings. The lone hit came on a one-out single from J.J. Hardy in the fifth inning. The 25-year-old right-hander now owns a 1.97 ERA in eight starts since coming off the disabled list and a 1.93 ERA in 10 starts overall this season.

Jeter had an RBI groundout in the third inning and later ripped a double into the left field corner in the fifth to score two more runs. By driving in three runs tonight, he passed Hall of Famers Enos Slaughter and Roberto Clemente on the all-time RBI list and is now tied with Paul Molitor for 109th all-time with 1,307 RBI. The 40-year-old has caught fire with only days remaining in his career, batting .417 (10-for-24) with four extra-base hits and six RBI over his last six games.

It wasn’t all bad news for the Orioles tonight. The Tigers lost to the White Sox, so Baltimore has clinched home-field advantage for the ALDS.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.