Marlins brush aside sign stealing theory
MIAMI — At home, the Marlins have certainly looked good, really good. Actually, so good that the Braves became suspicious enough to wonder if Miami was stealing signs.
The Marlins’ offensive onslaught, especially on Tuesday when they scored nine runs off Aaron Harang, had Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez checking around.
“If you would have taken a look at our dugout at one point in the game, in the fourth or fifth inning when they were hitting balls everywhere, we’ve got three guys looking at the scoreboard and you’ve got two guys looking at their bullpen,” Gonzalez told reporters before Wednesday’s game. “I’m [calling bullpen coach Eddie Perez] saying, ‘Do you see anything?’ I’m looking at [catcher Evan Gattis], thinking maybe he’s tipping his pitches. [Bench coach Carlos Tosca] is looking at their bench, thinking somebody is whistling.”
Entering the series, the Braves starters had simply dominate. But in the series, the Marlins shellshocked the NL East leaders, completing a three-game sweep and scoring 23 runs in the process.
“We haven’t seen that [against our starting pitchers this year],” Gonzalez said. “And then somebody picks up the stats and they say, ‘They are hitting almost 100 points better at home than they are on the road.’ So yeah, you’re always thinking conspiracy theory. But at the end, we came up with nothing.”
Marlins manager Mike Redmond has his own theory on what happened in Miami’s first home series sweep of Atlanta since 2006.
“Just give us a little credit,” Redmond said. “I haven’t heard anything. We’re out there playing the game the right way. Guys are battling, competing. That’s how we’re winning ballgames.”
The fact the Marlins are 12-4 at home and 2-10 on the road has captured plenty of attention.
At home, the Marlins are batting .307 with 99 runs scored, 35 doubles, five triples, 14 homers and 95 RBIs. Away, the club is hitting .215 with 32 runs scored, 10 doubles, one triple, 12 homers and 31 RBIs.
A week ago in Atlanta, the Marlins dropped two of three, and scored four runs in the series. However, the Braves didn’t post many runs either, eight total.
Baseball is a game of adjustments. The way the Marlins look at it, they made the adjustments against Atlanta’s pitchers, while the Braves’ offense was frustrated twice in two weeks by Jose Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi.
Harang on Wednesday was tagged for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings. The previous week, he allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings, and he struck out 11. The Marlins did get six hits off him that day, but were unable to manufacture little else.
In preparation for their rematch with Harang, the Marlins did their typical review work. They studied video, and came to the conclusion they let Harang off the hook in Atlanta.
The Marlins believed Harang threw roughly 15 pitches at Atlanta that their hitters could have done serious damage, but didn’t. Instead, those pitches were either fouled off, or not hit hard, or even taken for strikes.
The difference on Wednesday is those same mistake pitches were crushed.
Adjustment or sign stealing?
Also with Harang, the veteran posted a 5.40 ERA combined with the Mets and Mariners in 2013. Yet, he came into Wednesday night with an 0.85 ERA. No one on the Marlins accused the veteran right-hander of doctoring the ball in some fashion to gain an edge. Not a whisper. Second time around, Miami locked in, and put up big numbers, raising Harang’s ERA rose to 2.97.
So often it’s about pitch execution, regardless if a hitter knows what it coming.
Take Thursday’s night’s 5-4 Marlins win.
Gattis, for instance, has the Marlins attention. He mashes fastballs. He did so at Atlanta last week, delivering a walk-off, two-run homer and a game-winning, two-run double on fastballs.
At Miami, the Marlins were giving Gattis a steady diet of sliders and off-speed pitches during the series. On Thursday, Henderson Alvarez threw a hanging slider, and Gattis didn’t miss, hitting a home run which put his team in front, 4-3, at the time.
Poorly executed pitch, and a good adjustment by Gattis to staying back on the off-speed mistake.
What can be taken out of the series sweep is the Marlins certainly got the Braves attention.
Atlanta has completely dominated the Marlins since 2004, posting a 115-74 edge. No other team has won that many off Miami in the same time span. So being swept by the Marlins is unfamiliar territory for the perennial NL East power.
For the Marlins, with the Dodgers now in town for three-games, there is little time to get caught up in conspiracy accusations.
“I don’t even think much about it,” Redmond said. “My focus is on our guys and my team and what we’re doing. We just played a great three-game series, and I’m not going to let anything diminish that. We’re going to enjoy that [Thursday], and we’re going to try to beat the Dodgers [Friday].”
— Joe Frisaro