The Toronto Blue Jays may need to add an extra statistical category to their team aggregate – SS – for stolen signs.
The Blue Jays are once again at the center of sign stealing claims after Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel cried to the media that Toronto was tipping off its batters. The Jays blistered Hammel for four solo home runs in Wednesday’s 4-1 win
“They’re a very potent offense and if you don’t make your pitches down they’re going to get them out,” he told the Baltimore Sun
. “They were taking some pretty big hacks on my breaking stuff too, which leads me to believe it was something else. It is what it is. I need to keep the ball down.
“When you’re locating your fastball, you’re going to give up some home runs there, but the swings they were taking on the breaking stuff, it was pretty amazing to me. I don’t think you can take swings like that not knowing they’re coming. I don’t know. That’s all I can say.”
The Blue Jays swept the Orioles in the three-game series, outscoring the O’s 18-9 while smacking six balls over the fence. Toronto is fourth in the majors with 72 total home runs – 42 at home - and has ranked among the top home-run hitting teams at home the past few seasons. Last year, it hit 103 of its 186 dingers inside the Rogers Centre – better than 55 percent.
Sign stealing was a hot topic in T.O. last August, when a mysterious man in white
was allegedly signaling to batters what pitch was coming next. The New York Yankees cried foul after a 16-7 beating at the hands of the Blue Jays on July 14 and the Chicago White Sox made a stink to ESPN
, stating that signs were being swiped by a man in a white shirt stationed in the center field seats.
“There’s rumors and things like that,” Hammel said when asked about past claims against the Jays. “I don’t know. I can’t speak on that, but they were taking very, very big strong hacks on breaking stuff. It was something I’ve never seen before.”
Nothing came of the ESPN article, with the Blue Jays front office and players laughing off the claims. However, where there's smoke there's sometimes fire. And there seems to be a consistent plume of sign-stealing smog hovering over the Big Smoke every few seasons.
The Seattle Mariners pointed the finger at the Jays for stealing signs in 2005, with former Blue Jays infielder Orlando Hudson as the culprit. On July 20, 2005
, Seattle argued that Toronto was relaying signs from a runner on second base to the dugout and then to the batter. The Blue Jays won the game 9-4 as -123 faves, scoring all nine runs with a man on second to easily top the 9-run total.
Toronto is 14-10-1 over/under underneath the retractable roof this year, and posted a profitable 47-32-2 over/under mark at home last season, finishing 2011 with an 83-73-6 over/under record overall.
The Blue Jays open a three-game home series against the Boston Red Sox Friday, with the total for Game 1 set at 9.5 runs
. In the last 15 meetings between these American League East rivals at the Rogers Centre, the over has paid out 11 times.