The Astros’ current one-game deficit in the AL Championship isn’t their only postseason issue.
Major League Baseball is investigating two incidents involving someone with the team using a cellphone to take photographs of the visiting dugouts in Cleveland and Boston during games this October.
On Wednesday, two people familiar with the situation said the Astros attempted to get a second person next to the Indians’ dugout during Game 3 of the AL Division Series after another man was removed earlier by security for taking pictures with his cellphone.
The second person tried to gain access to the field photographer’s pit but was turned away, said the people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The Indians have filed a complaint with MLB, which is investigating Houston’s actions and said the matter “will be handled internally.”
An unidentified man, who had been issued a credential before the Oct. 8 game in Cleveland, was removed from an area near Boston’s dugout for taking photos during Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday, according to a report by Metro Boston and Yahoo Sports.
The Red Sox had been warned before their series-opening game to look out for the man, the AP was told by the people.
The Indians, who were swept by Houston and eliminated in the first round for the second straight year, were concerned the man was attempting to view scouting reports Cleveland had on Houston’s players, one person said.
During the early innings in Game 3, the Indians became aware that the man standing near their dugout in Progressive Field was aiming his cellphone into their dugout and taking pictures.
He stood out because he was wearing a suit jacket in a restricted area reserved for photographers, a member of the team’s social media department and where TV reporters are permitted to stand, one of the sources said.
After being approached by security, the man left without incident but a second person attempted to replace him several innings later and was denied access to the field area, the AP was told.
The Indians entered the series concerned the Astros, who have been suspected of cheating in the past, had stolen some signs or had other useful information about them, one person said.
Following Game 3, Indians starter Mike Clevinger alluded to the Astros having an advantage. Clevinger allowed one run and three hits in five innings, but took the loss as the Indians were pounded 11-3.
“A lot of stuff. A lot of things,” Clevinger said when asked what happened. “I’m going to keep it really short. We were a little bit, I don’t know, kind of had our backs against the wall before this started when it came to the analytical side. But everybody was out there giving it their all, they just had some really good arms to back it up.”
On Tuesday, the Metro Boston report said a man claiming to be an Astros employee was removed from a credentialed area near Boston’s dugout during the third inning of Game 1.
After the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead with a win Tuesday night, Astros manager AJ Hinch said he “was aware of something going on” regarding the alleged incidents in Cleveland and Boston, but he chose not to comment directly.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said his team adjusts if it believes signs have been stolen.
“We don’t get caught up on the whole paranoia thing of the signs,” said Cora, who was Houston’s bench coach last season when the Astros won their first World Series title. “We try to slow it down. If we feel there’s something going on we switch the signs.”
Stealing signs has been part of baseball since the invention of the game. Teams routinely try to gain an advantage by trying to detect patterns, whether it’s a catcher showing signs to a pitcher on the mound or a third-base coach relaying signs to a batter.
However, new technology may have given teams an unfair advantage as the use of high-definition, high-speed cameras allows teams to peer where they couldn’t before.
The Red Sox were fined last season by MLB for using an Apple Watch to try to steal signs from the rival New York Yankees.
There have been previous suspicions about the Astros.
Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer went on Twitter earlier this season and intimated that Houston’s pitchers were possibly using pine tar to improve the rate of spin on pitches. Bauer wasn’t specific, but Astros pitchers Lance McCullers Jr. and Collin McHugh defended themselves on social media.
Yahoo reported Oakland’s players believed Astros players were relaying stolen signs during games and the team asked for an investigation.
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