Ryan Tepera alludes to Astros scandal after White Sox succeed away from Houston

The Houston Astros cheating scandal didn’t start against the White Sox, but a particularly egregious instance of sign-stealing during an otherwise meaningless game against a 95-loss Sox team in September of 2017 is what allowed everybody to sleuth it out for themselves.

If the Astros were so invested in stealing signs during a game with zero implications, then they can’t expect the benefit of the doubt in postseason games in October.

Ryan Tepera, who became just the second White Sox pitcher to throw two consecutive scoreless innings during in the ALDS they pushed to a Game 4 with a stirring 12-6 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field Sunday night, introduced said doubt after the game.

“It’s a different game here at our field,” Tepera said after the White Sox won their first game of the series after losing two in Houston. “You play at Minute Maid, they’re doing something over there that’s a little different. It showed you how many swings and misses they had tonight compared to at Minute Maid. That’s why you have homefield advantage.”

When Tepera was asked if he thought the Astros still were doing something nefarious at home, Tepera didn’t say the words “cheating” or “sign-stealing,” but instead used the word “sketchy.”

“They’ve obviously had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there,” the White Sox reliever said. “We can say that it’s a little bit of a difference. I think you saw the swings and misses tonight compared to the first two games at Minute Maid, but that’s not really the story. We come here to play. We’re going to compete. We’re not even going to worry about what they’re going to do. All we have to do is execute pitches and they can’t hit them anyway.”

After Tepera retired all six batters he faced, Aaron Bummer retired all five batters he faced. And then Craig Kimbrel retired the only batter he faced. And then Liam Hendriks threw a perfect ninth to close it out. It had to be a pretty different feeling out there, and the success getting strikes without contact bears that out.

GamePitchesCSWhiffsCS+Whiff%
Game 1145211726.2
Game 2142231526.8
Game 3152282232.9

As for whether this is the continuation of any pattern, the Astros actually had a higher strikeout rate at home (19.8 percent) than away (19.1 percent) during the regular season, although their walk rate was quite higher at Minute Maid Field (9.6 to 8.5 percent). The White Sox saw better results across the board except for Dylan Cease, who looked like the other two starters who couldn’t find the zone with regularity.

If I had to guess, the Astros aren’t doing anything specific. If they were, I imagine Major League Baseball has to have open channels for teams to submit complaints. Back in 2019, Rick Hahn avoided getting into the weeds about the 2017 series, saying, “Anything that involves the leagues and clubs with each other, we try to keep quiet between us. It’s more dignified that way.” I don’t think he would be so circumspect now.

If the specter of cheating at Minute Maid Field helps Tepera and other White Sox pitchers establish a mindset that Sunday and Monday are their days to dominate — or if they’re avenging Winston-Salem pitching coach Danny Farquhar’s honor — then any edge is welcome. It doesn’t hurt to be on guard either. The Astros were so brazen about it before that the White Sox would be ashamed if they were fooled again, and because none of the Astros served punishments for participating in the tub-thumping scheme, shame and suspicion is the only price they’ve had to pay. The statute of limitations has yet to expire.

(Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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texag10

I don’t think they are doing anything nefarious (yet) but it’s extremely interesting how both Cease and Giolito came out and absolutely dominated in their first innings (Lynn was pretty good as well) and then shit immediately hit the fan. Control issues and nebulous strike zones certainly played a part in it but I don’t feel its a stretch to say that its a lot easier to lay off a slider just outside when you know a slider is coming and I don’t think any Astros player deserves the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Trooper Galactus

Brantley probably deserves the benefit of the doubt considering he wasn’t in Houston in 2017, and he’s always done well against White Sox pitching.

tkt546

While we’re throwing around baseless accusations gathered from small sample sizes…

White Sox
Away – 9 hits per game (all singles) – 2.5 runs per game
Home – 16 hits (4 extra base) – 12 runs

Astros
Home – 10 hits per game – 7.5 runs per game
Away – 6 hits – 6 runs

Definitely seems like one team has a “sketchy” home field advantage, but it isn’t the Astros.

knoxfire30

baseless?.. They were already convicted once, that’s a pretty sound base.

tkt546

White Sox where once convicted of throwing a game, is that grounds for accusing them of doing it now?

Brett R. Bobysud

Considering that the White Sox instance was over a century ago, whereas the Astros instance was just 4 years ago and many of the players involved are still on the roster, yeah, it’s a bit more based.

Lurker Laura

This is literally the same group of players who were caught cheating 4 years ago. The Black Sox have all been dead for 50+ years. So, yeah, these things are the same.

calcetinesblancos

Have you seen the Baseball documentary by Ken Burns? I highly recommend it. You’ll also learn that although throwing games was common at the time of the Black Sox scandal due to how little money the players made, the incident nonetheless resulted in eight players being banned for life.

Last edited 1 year ago by calcetinesblancos
digger0910

Omg. Get real dude.

Greg Nix

Everyone cut this guy some slack. Some folks just love to join an opposing teams’ blog so they can defend their cheatin’ ass franchise. It’s an extremely normal and not sad thing to do!

xubrent

They’d be pretty stupid to try some tricks again, but given the lax nature of the previous punishment and the stake at hand in the current situation, there’s still a greater than zero percent chance of something being funny. So here’s hoping the Sox bring the boomsticks for the next 2 games and make it a moot point.

calcetinesblancos

“So what lesson did you learn?”

“Mgmt will take the blame and we’ll get away scot-free.”

“Good, don’t do it again.”

itaita

I dont know if they are or aren’t. Its not like they weren’t kicking Lynn’s ass for years and Kimbrel’s been awesome since coming to the sox and whatnot. But the fallout from that scandal from 2017 is none of those players will ever get the benefit of the doubt again. And it shows just how much respect that lineup has lost across the league among the players. I know this is 10+ years in the future for some of these guys but i do wonder how much this might effect the Hall of Fame voting for some of them. Especially if they fall to the veterans committee.

texag10

It’s the Giolito start that gets me. I get its the playoffs and things are different but he’s faced them 5 times in his career in the regular season. He has a 3.71 ERA in those starts but one of those starts was a 2 inning/9 ER performance at the start of 2018. Outside of that start he has absolutely owned the Astros to the tune of a 1.41 ERA and 2 CGs including a shutout. Is it possible that he had an off day and the Astros capitalized? Absolutely. Did the Astros bring any and all suspicion on themselves in situations like this? Again, absolutely.

John SF

Also, in the anecdotal evidence category which obviously proves nothing, but we’ve literally seen Giolito start a high pressure playoff game against a solid offense on the road and obliterate them.

Granted, Giolito has been all around not quite as good this year as last. But, also, he has been fairly amazing the last couple months.

This anecdotal evidence is really only useful in comparing to, for example, Cease. Dylan was great in the second half, but there was good reason to think he might let the pressure of the situation get to him and implode a bit. Which is exactly what happened.

Now, just because Giolito nearly tossed like a 7 inning 2-hitter against the A’s last year doesn’t mean we can expect him to have a 1.22 post season ERA on the road for the rest of his career or something. But it also tips those scales just a little bit further towards suspicion of the astros to me.

burning-phoneix

Giolito’s changeup registered zero whiffs until the 4th inning. ????

Jason.Wade17

I can’t stand the Astros, specifically Bregman, Altuve, and Correa, so I hope the cheating gets brought up every year until they retire.

However, I don’t think they needed to cheat to know what pitch Lance Lynn was about to throw.

GrinnellSteve

I loathe Bregman specifically. Just the way he struts around like he’s god’s gift to warthogs makes me want to vomit.

Trooper Galactus

Leave the warthogs out of this, Steve.

texag10

Looks more like a puma to me

Trooper Galactus

Chupa-thingy?

Papa Giorgio

What’d I tell ya about makin up animals??

GrinnellSteve

If rain were to postpone today’s game, which team would benefit?

HallofFrank

It’s a good question… I’m going to say push. On the one hand, the Sox strength is the bullpen and the bullpen is clearly taxed—and with Rodón, the one guy everyone is hoping for just 3 IP, on the mound, no less. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the rhythm of this offense and the momentum of going today.

The tiebreaker maybe what they decide to do with game 5. If game 4 is tomorrow and game 5 is still Wednesday, I think it’s advantage Sox. If they can win game 4, the quick turnaround introduces more instability into game 5 and that’s what you want with McCullers on the mound in Houston. If the Astros get a day to compose themselves, well, you still have to beat McCullers in Houston which feels like a really difficult task.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I think a rain out today is advantage Houston, because we probably see McCullers in Game 4.

Knowing we have to get through McCullers to advance, I’d rather do it in Chicago.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

If I were Baker, I’d keep McCullers for game 5 anyway. Two reasons – one, they have a better chance of winning his start in Houston. And the other, if they managed to win game 4 in Chicago, McCullers could start game 1 of the next series.

I hope there is no rain out, personally. I don’t think it would help us in the end.

As Cirensica

100%

LamarHoyt_oncrack

It could really get interesting, because if G4 is Tuesday, Lynn could start on full rest (ditto McCullers). I know he sucked in game 1 and has a poor history vs the Astros, but the game would be in Chicago. Difficult question whether to go with Lynn, or Rodon at less than full strength.

If by some miracle they win G4, I would hope TLR has the sanity to start Giolito in G5 no matter who goes in G4. I think people would lose their sh** if Lynn starts in G5 in Houston.

Last edited 1 year ago by LamarHoyt_oncrack
calcetinesblancos

I was for Lynn starting game 1, but that was clearly a bad idea and I hope they learn from it.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

What isn’t clear is (if G4 is Tuesday) whether Lynn on full rest is better than Rodon at 80 percent or whatever. Rodon was effective even with loss in velocity, but also wasn’t facing the Astros. Could start either, with the other warming up in the pen ready to come in?

That’s a tough call that nobody would be able to second guess, certainly not obvious what the right answer would be.

metasox

Sox saw Rodon throw a bullpen and feel he looks ready. They know more than the rest of us. It is all hands on deck so you could see Lynn regardless. I am really curious to see what Rodon does, partly because of his contract status.

Willardmarshall

Millions on the table for him today….

calcetinesblancos

What a roller coaster for him this year. The non-tender, then coming back and making the rotation, then looking like a surefire Cy Young candidate, then back to the current situation where it’s hard to imagine any GM thinking it would be smart to sign him for anything substantial.

I’ve always been a fan of his though. He’s easy to like.

texag10

I can easily see a GM looking at him tiring out at the end of a season as a result of him pitching 41 innings the prior two years and 132 this year. Maybe its just Carlos breaking down again but a lot of teams would/could/should gamble on it being a blip due to the wonkiness of these past few years.

calcetinesblancos

I’d start Rodon.

texag10

Honestly? I don’t care if Rodon is at 80%. He’s been pitching lights out this year but more importantly: he has nasty offspeed stuff. The choice is a fastball only guy against a team that absolutely crushes fastballs or a lefty who can mix up pitches and keep them off balance.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

I think I agree with your reasoning. Lynn is just a horrible matchup against this team. We can only hope Rodon is healthy enough to go at least 3.

soxexile

I think you’re absolutely right. If we win G4, then we can either pitch Giolito in G5, or bring back Lynn on a VERY SHORT leash.

roke1960

The worst thing for the Sox is if it rains and then the start gets pushed back, but the game isn’t rained out. You don’t want Rodon warming up and then the game gets delayed. If that happens he probably won’t pitch at all. He needs to ramp up and then go right out there and pitch.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

At least that won’t happen… game cancelled. Hope we see Rodon tomorrow.

HallofFrank

You gotta love Tepera’s effort with the “But that’s not really the story.” He basically said: “Yeah, these guys were probably cheating in a playoff game, continuing the scandal that shocked the entire baseball world, but the *real* story is that we played great.”

jhomeslice

He might not believe they’re cheating at all and just saying that to get in their head. Maybe it works.

HallofFrank

Yeah, but that could backfire. Maybe it does get in their heads, or maybe it’s a bit of bulletin board material for a team especially eager to prove they can win in Chicago. I could see that going either way.

calcetinesblancos

That’s clearly it. In the position the Sox currently find themselves, anything that can shake up the Astros even a little bit is a good thing.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

Are the Astros cheating in some form? Probably.

Are the Sox cheating in some form? Also probably.

670WMAQtheElder

Minute Maid has a roof and really weird outfield dimensions. Remember they used to have the flagpole in play? So I think the Astros just have a strong home field advantage, but to suggest cheating this year just shows how their scandal continues to destroy their reputation. And that so many of the players who did cheat were not banned for life, and instead were batting against Tepera last night is an injustice.

The Sox like to play at home and are very, very good here. That’s the pity that TLR didn’t push to win in September to have home field in a best 3 of 5 series.

The fan support last night was incredible. There was so much energy I hope today’s game can duplicate. I’ve never heard it so loud after Garcia’s HR. It didn’t feel like a four hour game.

Hallion’s strike zone was all over the place. Cease is a young dude and he has to learn how to pitch through an ump’s mistakes. I think he will. Rodon had the same issues when he was younger and now look how he competes. Walks to the Astros lineup are deadly.

TLR was slow getting pitchers warming last night again. Kimbrel coming in for Bummer was inexplicable given that Bummer was cruising. Shades of Jerry Manuel.

calcetinesblancos

I actually think he should have let Kimbrel finish the game personally. Would have loved to see what he did pitching the 9th, although doing that might have admittedly caused a riot.

Also, it was definitely good for Cease to get the playoff experience. I’m sure he’s already aware of what he would like to do differently next time.

soxexile

Sox radio guys thought TLR was getting Kimbrell into a game to help him get his confidence back, and doing it with a 3 run lead, 2 outs and nobody on, so he had the maximum margin for error.

calcetinesblancos

I love it. Mess with their heads any way you can, especially after that game last night.

As Cirensica

I’m gonna go out of a limb and believe pitcher/catcher will use a different set of signals every inning to avoid decoding (if any) exposure. It wouldn’t hurt anyway.

Last edited 1 year ago by As Cirensica
digger0910

I absolutely love that Tepera said this. I hope we sign this guy.

digger0910

SOX IN 5. Let’s go.

Papa Giorgio

I’m even more optimistic. Sox in 4.

GrinnellSteve

And just like that, today’s game is cancelled.

texag10

I had absolutely no meetings today. It was perfect for me to pull up the game on my phone. Now its tomorrow, right smack dab in the middle of a meeting that I’m running so I can’t even half pay attention to the game.

ParisSox

I can’t believe your car broke down / train delayed / plane crashed forcing you to push your meeting out a day.

twtw

Seems like an electronic relay between the pitcher and catcher would also improve pace of play. Not sure I like Tepera’s comments, but it sure helped change the subject.

Jason

Can I jump in with a broadcast critique not about whether the announcers sufficiently like us or not?

Can they let the damn game breathe a bit? Anytime you watch a game where the fans are *in it*, it’s a better viewing experience when you allow that to be a key part of the game.

Fourth inning, when Abreu has the rbi single through the infield, the stadium went straight from a loud chorus of “Joseee Jose-Jose-Jose Joseee” straight to a deafening “Hey Hey Goodbye”. It was beautiful.

But on the broadcast, they talked over all of it, then went to commercial cutting off the second “hey hey hey”.

One thing that makes Benetti great is he’s learned when to give the game atmosphere it’s due before stepping back in. The national guys, who to a T have less interesting things to say, also feel the need to constantly say it.

itaita

I think this is a downside of Fox having its better play-by-play guys doing the NFL. I know people shit on Joe Buck often but he is better at those kind of things or at least tries to be a little less wordy at times. Of course the downside to him is hes a package deal with Smoltz who is his own set of grumbling.

yinkadoubledare

I think it’s a problem of a 3 man booth more than anything Amin is doing, you simply aren’t going to have as much of them letting the ambient noise do some of the talking when you have another guy in the booth.

mikeyb

I love Tepera even more now. I enjoy how we’ve sort of built a roster of guys who don’t give a damn about what they say. Tim is locked up, Lynn is locked up, Hendriks is locked up. Pay Tepera whatever it takes to get him to stay. Teach Gavin Sheets some swear words. I bet Andrew Vaughn has some rage locked up inside of him.

Build half the roster out of Leurys/Billys/Eloys, guys who just want to smile and laugh all day, and half the roster out of Tims/Lances/Teperas, guys who are just gonna talk shit all day.

shaggy65

If there’s one thing I don’t want to do before facing the best lineup in baseball, it’s piss them off and give them extra motivation to pound Sox pitching in Chicago. I agree that the Astros deserve to wear this shame around their necks for the rest of their careers, but I’m not sure bringing it up right now is smart gamesmanship.

Gary Snitz

I think a nice punishment for the Trashstros would be that in Houston, the visiting team gets unlimited visits to the mound for the catcher.

roke1960

“He can say what he wants to say, I had never even heard his name before we played the White Sox,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker about Chicago relief pitcher Ryan Tepera who hinted that Houston may be stealing signs at Minute Maid Park.

Wow, Dusty, no wonder you’ve never won anything. Have you heard his name now that he sent your awesome hitters 6-up 6-down yesterday? I’d say maybe you should read some scouting reports before you go out to manage next time.

shaggy65

The dude got an MVP vote last year, for goodness sake!