TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Jay Jackson says he believes he was tipping his pitches when New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge homered against him.
That at-bat was quickly scrutinized when cameras caught Judge taking unusual glances toward the first-base line moments before Jackson delivered. Many questioned whether someone on the Yankees was signaling to the 2022 AL MVP an indication of which pitch Jackson was about to throw, based on either sign stealing or pitch tipping.
Jackson told The Athletic that he believes a Yankees coach was able to see which grip he was using while holding the ball in his glove, and that coach relayed the info to Judge, helping him hit a 462-foot home run. Jackson was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, and Toronto recalled right-hander Thomas Hatch from the Bisons.
There is no prohibition on teammates or coaches using the naked eye to study pitchers and relay that info to batters. When the 2017 Houston Astros were punished for sign stealing, it was because they used banned electronics – including live video feeds – to help gather that intel.
Jackson said he was holding his hands up by his head before coming to the set position, in a spot that might have allowed Yankees first base coach Travis Chapman to see Jackson’s grip on the ball and identify the pitch. Chapman could have relayed the information to Judge using a hand signal.
Jackson also said he was tipping his pitches by moving his hands from his head down to the set position at his hip at different speeds on different pitches.
Judge said he was looking into his dugout to see which of his teammates was disrupting his at-bat by yelling at plate umpire Clint Vondrak. Vondrak had just ejected New York manager Aaron Boone for arguing a low strike call to Judge.
Before the next game, Blue Jays manager John Schneider expressed concern about where the Yankees were positioning their first and third base coaches, saying his team had spoken to the commissioner’s office about the issue.
“There’s boxes on the field for a reason,” Schneider said.
After Judge struck out in the third inning, there was a brief shouting match between Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker and Yankees third base coach Luis Rojas. Walker went to the outfield end of the dugout, yelling and gesturing at Rojas, a former Mets manager.
Later, Boone gestured at Blue Jays third base coach Luis Rivera, motioning for him to return to the box painted in foul territory behind third.
The dramatic series took another turn when Yankees right-hander Domingo Germán was ejected after the umpires checked his hands for banned sticky stuff before the fourth inning.
“The instant I looked at his hand, it was extremely shiny and extremely sticky,” home plate umpire and crew chief James Hoye told a pool reporter. “It’s the stickiest hand I’ve ever felt. My fingers had a hard time coming off his palm.”
Germán’s ejection is likely to trigger a 10-game suspension.