ST. PETERSBURG — Considering the Astros used a high-tech method to decipher a catcher’s signals to a pitcher, they used a decidedly low-brow method to relay that information to hitters.
Based on the commissioner’s office investigation released Monday, the Astros took advantage of video replay monitors set up near the dugout in recent years. When the pitch was determined off the monitor, someone would loudly bang a garbage can near the dugout to alert the hitter.
Depending on the pitcher, one bang might represent a breaking pitch. Two bangs would be a change-up. No banging meant a fastball was coming.
New Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who was a Houston hitter in 2017, apparently developed this system, according to the commissioner’s report.
In video from the Rays game against the Astros on Aug. 1, 2017, the banging can be heard during Beltran’s second-inning at-bat against then-Rays pitcher Chris Archer.
Beltran’s at-bat begins around the 42:45 mark.
Pitch No. 1: At 42:57, one bang is heard, and Beltran takes a called strike on a slider.
Pitch No. 2: At 43:17, two bangs are heard, and Beltran takes a change-up for a ball.
Pitch No. 3: At 43:48, two bangs are heard, and Beltran takes a change-up for a ball.
Pitch No. 4: At 44:12, one bang is heard, and Beltran fouls off a slider.
Pitch No. 5: At 44:43, the catcher’s sign is given and no bang is heard. Archer throws a 96 mph fastball that Beltran rips to first baseman Lucas Duda.
In Beltran’s fifth-inning at-bat, which starts around 1:46:48, Archer starts with two fastballs (no bangs) and a slider (one bang) before throwing another 96 mph fastball (no bang) that Beltran hits over the rightfield wall for a homer.
The commissioner’s office also determined Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was then Houston’s bench coach, created the sign-stealing system off the replay monitor in 2017. It was initially used to relay a signal to a base runner on second, who would then alert the hitter.
John Romano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @romano_tbtimes.