BOSTON – The Braves suspected there was possible sign-stealing by the Marlins when Atlanta was swept in a three-game series at Miami a month ago, and so manager Fredi Gonzalez was asked if the Braves would change signs for the series that starts Friday night at Marlins Park.
“No,” Gonzalez said. “You know what, that story kind of got a life of its own, and it shouldn’t have. The initial report, you know how you have second stories and third stories and they become something (bigger). Because right when that first came out I kind of pooh-poohed it. But obviously it kept going for about another three weeks.
“But no, we won’t do anything different (in regards to signs).”
The Marlins’ disparity in home and road results has been slightly less extreme lately, but is still highly unusual. Miami is 20-8 with a .288 batting average and 156 runs at home (5.6 runs per game), and 8-17 with a .237 batting average 86 runs on the road (3.4 runs per game).
Braves pitching got a taste of the Marlins’ newfound home-park hitting frenzy a month ago.
The Braves had gone 29-10 with a 2.02 ERA in a 39-game against the Marlins before the April 29-May 1 series at Miami, where the Marlins outscored them 23-7. The Braves hit .188 and posted an 8.63 ERA during that series, which came after they had begun the season 17-7 with a 2.04 ERA.
Starting with that series in Miami, the Braves went 11-17 with a 3.78 ERA in 28 games before Thursday night’s series finale against the Red Sox.
But at the time, a month ago in Miami, after Atlanta pitchers had given up nine runs in each of the first two games of that series, some Braves hinted strongly that they thought the Marlins were relaying Braves signs to Miami hitters.
Harang, after recording 11 strikeouts and allowing six hits and one run in six innings against the Marlins on April 23 in Atlanta, was knocked around for 10 hits and a career-high nine runs in 4 2/3 innings of the April 30 loss in Miami. Harang is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday.
Alex Wood, a Braves starter at the time, entered the Miami series with a 1.54 ERA, then gave up 10 hits and seven runs in five innings of the 9-0 Marlins rout April 29.
Here’s some of what Gonzalez said before the May 1 series finale, when there was discussion about the great disparity in the Marlins’ home and road statistics and the Braves tried to figure out if anything untoward was going on.
“Yeah, you have this conspiracy theory, but at the end, we came up with nothing,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t like we saw a guy with the (binoculars), like Mick Billmeyer (former Phillies bullpen coach) in Colorado. At the end of the day, they didn’t miss the pitches. They were right there.”
Gonzalez was laughing as he told the story that day, including how the Braves had gone so far as the check out the pop-art sculpture in center field at Marlins Park to see if there might be camera hidden there.
Flash ahead a month to Thursday afternoon, when Gonzalez was asked if the Braves were now satisfied that the Marlins weren’t stealing signs.
“Yeah, I think so,” Gonzalez said before his team’s series finale at Fenway Park. “There’s always these rumors that go around. I remember when the Phillies (were getting accused of sign-stealing), or Colorado. This fraternity is too close for someone not to know something. So that’s why I’m thinking it’s not true.”