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Dodgers defeat Rockies 5-2 in tiebreaker to win NL West

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Walker Buehler turned in a gem during Monday’s NL West tiebreaker game against the Rockies, helping the Dodgers win the division title for the sixth consecutive season. The offense provided him with five runs of support while he held the Rockies’ offense scoreless.

Buehler, who was part of a combined no-hitter earlier this season, brought a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, but it was broken up when Charlie Blackmon singled to right field with one out. Buehler issued a two-out walk in the seventh and manager Dave Roberts decided to pull him there. Pedro Báez entered and issued a walk of his own before getting Matt Holliday to pop out to the shallow outfield to end the inning. Buehler’s final line: 6 2/3 innings, no runs, one hit, three walks, one hit batter, three strikeouts on 93 pitches.

Cody Bellinger broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning against Germán Márquez with a two-run homer to right-center. Max Muncy added another two-run shot in the fifth off of Márquez. Buehler brought in a run in support of himself in the sixth, singling in Enrique Hernández. Hernández had what is arguably the most adorable slide in baseball history.

Báez began the eighth, inducing a line out from Chris Iannetta. Lefty Scott Alexander entered, gave up a single to Blackmon, and promptly exited. Roberts brought in Kenta Maeda this time, who got DJ LeMahieu to ground out and then struck out David Dahl.

The ninth was Kenley Jansen‘s, or at least that was the plan. Nolan Arenado greeted him by ripping a first-pitch cutter into the bleachers in left field to put the Rockies on the board. Arenado ends the regular season leading the NL with 38 home runs and ties for second in RBI with 110. Trevor Story made it back-to-back homers, working a nine-pitch at-bat before depositing a ball beyond the fence in right-center to make it 5-2. Jansen bounced back, inducing a ground out from Carlos González, striking out Ian Desmond looking, and striking out Gerardo Parra swinging to end the game.

After Monday’s win, the Dodgers advance to play the Braves in the NLDS. The Rockies will travel to Chicago to play the Cubs in the NL Wild Card game. The winner of that moves on to face the NL Central champion Brewers in the NLDS.

Astros fan logs trash can bangs from 2017

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A fascinating and no doubt time consuming research project was released this morning. An Astros fan by the name of Tony Adams went through every Astros home game in the 2017 season and logged trash can bangs. Which, as you know, was the mechanism via which Astros players in the clubhouse signaled to hitters which pitch was coming.

Adams listened to every pitch from the Astros’ 2017 home games and made a note of any banging noise he could detect. There were 20 home games for which he did not have access to video. There were three “home” games which took place at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida due to the team being displaced by hurricane Harvey and for which, obviously, the Astros’ camera setup from Minute Maid Park would not have been applicable.

Adams logged over 8,200 pitches and found banging before over 1,100 of those pitches. He graphed which players got the most bangs during their at batsMarwin Gonzalez got the most, with bangs coming before 147 of 776 pitches seen, followed by George Springer, who got bangs on 139 of 933. José Altuve had the least among regulars, with only 24 bangs in 866 pitches. One gets the sense that, perhaps, he felt that the banging would interfere with his normal pitch recognition process or something. Either way it’s worth noting that a lack of banging was also signal. Specifically, for a fastball. As such, Astros hitters were helped on a much higher percentage of pitches than what is depicted in the graphs themselves.

Adams reminds us that Commissioner Manfred’s report stated that the Astros also used hand-clapping, whistling, and yelling early in the season before settling on trash can banging. Those things were impossible to detect simply by watching video. As it is, Adams’ graphs of bangs-per-game shows that the can-banging plan dramatically ramped-up on May 28.

It’s hard to say anything definitive about the scope and effectiveness of the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme based on this study alone. Adams may or may not have been hearing everything and, as he notes, there may have been a lot more pitches relayed thought means other than trash can banging than we know. Alternatively it’s possible that Adams was marking some sounds as bangs that were not, in fact, Astros players sending signals to the batter. It’s probably an inexact science.

Still, this is an impressive undertaking that no doubt took a ton of time. And it at least begins to provide a glimpse into the Astros’ sign-stealing operation.