Kevin Pillar
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Video: Kevin Pillar denies home run with an incredible catch

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The day after their remarkable eight-run comeback to topple the Reds in extra innings, the Giants had a difficult time getting their offense going again. Defense, however, didn’t seem to be as much of a problem, at least not for center fielder Kevin Pillar.

With the Reds up 5-1 in the bottom of the third, Cincinnati rookie Nick Senzel stepped up to bat against Dereck Rodríguez in hopes of extending the club’s four-run lead. He worked a 3-2 count off Rodríguez, then returned a 91-m.p.h. fastball out to the deepest part of center field — where it was promptly denied entrance after Pillar scaled the fence to make the catch:

Unfortunately for the Giants, Pillar’s incredible antics weren’t enough to keep the Reds at bay forever. Tucker Barnhart and Derek Dietrich returned with solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, while Senzel later redeemed his previous fly out with his first career home run, this time taking care to steer it well past his previous target.

The Reds currently lead the Giants 8-2 in the seventh.

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.