Carlos Beltrán, Alex Cora are going to get caught up in Astros’ sign-stealing

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Yesterday Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic followed up on their Tuesday bombshell about the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing in 2017.  In the followup they noted that Mets manager Carlos Beltrán and Red Sox manager Alex Cora are likely to be interviewed by Major League Baseball as it investigates the Astros’ use of a center field camera to steal opposing signs:

Cora was the team’s bench coach in ’17; Beltrán was a designated hitter and outfielder in the final season of a 20-year career that might result in his election to the Hall of Fame. Multiple sources said they were not the only members of the team who participated in the Astros’ scheme that season.

That Beltrán knew all about it is more than inferential based on him being a player for that team. Indeed, in an interview with The Athletic’s Rustin Dodd earlier this month, Astros’ third baseman Alex Bregman made some comments that, with the benefit of hindsight, are far more illuminating than they were on first read:

“I think Carlos Beltrán helped out the Yankees this year a lot,” Bregman said. “Like a lot lot.”

The statement came accompanied by a wry smile and a lack of specifics. A follow-up inquiry was unsuccessful. “He helps a lot behind the scenes,” Bregman said, holding his expression.

Yeah.

The thing about all of this, though, is that there was no way whatsoever that the Astros’ scheme was ever going to remain a secret, right? Players change teams all the times via trades and free agency. Coaches of successful teams are hired by other teams to manage or coach. Players are adversaries on the field but are often friends off the field. When hatching the center field camera scheme — a scheme that had to have involved multiple people in various baseball operations and non-baseball operations parts of the organization and was certainly known by everyone in the dugout — it had to have been known, with 100% certainty, that people outside the organization would know, sooner or later.

So why still do it? Probably because everyone knowing was not considered a risk. It was not considered a risk because other teams are doing it and other things along these lines too. Just as one team doesn’t usually go after an opposing pitcher for using pine tar because their own pitchers are also using it, one team likely doesn’t blow up another for cheating lest their own cheating schemes get blown up.

And that held, for the most part here. Tuesday’s story was not a function of, say, the Nationals or the Yankees or the Rays lodging a complaint over the Astros stealing signs. It was because a couple of reporters — one of whom, Drellich, has been all over the Astros over the past few years — finally got someone to talk about it on the record.

None of which absolves the Astros, of course. Cheating is cheating and Major League Baseball has made it clear that using electronic or technological means to steal signs — as opposed to players looking in from second base to figure it out — is against the rules. It does, however, implicate many other teams. Maybe all of them.

Remember that if and when Major League Baseball decides that this is just an Astros problem. Because if they’re doing that, they’re solving a P.R. problem, not a cheating problem.

Phillies down Astros for 1st playoff berth since 2011

Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros
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HOUSTON – Aaron Nola took a perfect game into the seventh inning and Kyle Schwarber homered twice as the Philadelphia Phillies clinched their first playoff berth in 11 years with a 3-0 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

After Brandon Marsh caught Mauricio Dubon’s fly ball in center for for the game’s final out, players jumped and cheered in jubilation before meeting at the mound where they hugged and bounced around some more.

The video board at Minute Maid Park displayed the team’s logo and the words: “Congratulations Philadelphia” as the Phillies celebrated.

A small but vocal group of Philadelphia fans congregated near the team’s dugout and chanted: “Let’s go Phillies,” in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Phillies clinched at the same ballpark where they secured their last postseason trip on Sept. 14, 2011. That game was a 1-0 victory over the Astros highlighted by a complete game shutout by Hall of Famer Roy Halladay.

Philadelphia’s postseason drought was the longest active one in the majors after the Seattle Mariners clinched their first playoff berth in 21 years Friday night.

The Phillies entered the opener of the final regular season series of the year needing a win or a loss by the Brewers to get a National League Wild Card spot. The Brewers rallied to beat the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 10 innings a few minutes before Philadelphia wrapped up the victory.

Nola (11-13) struck out nine and didn’t allow a baserunner until Yordan Alvarez singled with two outs in the seventh. David Hensley followed with a single and Nola was replaced by Jose Alvarado, who struck out Kyle Tucker to end the inning.

Zach Eflin pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout and get his first save in 11 years of pro ball.

Schwarber got things going for the Phillies in their first visit to Houston since Sept. 16, 2012, with a leadoff homer off Lance McCullers (4-2)

Philadelphia added some insurance when Bryson Stott and Schwarber hit back-to-back solo shots off Jose Urquidy to start the eighth inning.

It is the eighth multi-home run game this season for Schwarber, who leads the NL with a career-high 46 home runs, and gives him 199 homers in his career.

The Phillies have three players who will appear in the postseason for the first time after playing more than 600 career games. Jean Segura leads the group with 1,327, J.T. Realmuto has 1,004 and Rhys Hoskins is at 666.

McCullers allowed six hits and one run with five strikeouts in six innings.

Manager Dusty Baker replaced Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena with Aledmys Diaz, Dubon and Hensley for the seventh inning.

He said before the game that he planned to get some of his starters out early to rest since Houston has already clinched the best record in the American League.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: LHP Brad Hand (elbow tendinitis) threw a bullpen session Monday in Houston and could throw live batting practice Wednesday. If that goes well, he could be ready to return for the postseason.

UP NEXT

Houston Justin Verlander, whose 1.80 ERA leads the majors, will try for his 18th win when the series continues Tuesday against Ranger Suarez (10-6, 3.37).