If you've been wondering how the Marlins started scoring runs all of a sudden, and especially at Marlins Park, one of the best pitcher's parks in the majors, you're not alone. The Atlanta Braves found it more than just a little suspicious that the Marlins were not only tearing it up in their home park, but going hog wild against Aaron Harang on Wednesday just days after striking out 11 times against him in Atlanta.
The Braves, in fact, began to wonder if the Marlins were up to no good, specifically, by stealing signs through the use of cameras positioned strategically around the ballpark. That's right. The Braves wondered if the Marlins had concealed a camera inside the Home Run Sculpture. Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell even threw a towel over a Fox Sports camera lens before Thursday's game to keep it from focusing in on Braves starter Ervin Santana as he was warming up in the bullpen.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"If you would have taken a look at our dugout at one point in the game, it was like the fourth or fifth inning, they were hitting balls everywhere, we got three guys looking at the scoreboard,” (Braves manager Fredi) Gonzalez said. “You got two guys looking at their bullpen. I’m calling (bullpen coach) Eddie (Perez), ‘Eddie do you see anything?’ I’m looking at Gattis, thinking he’s maybe tipping his pitches. Carlos (Tosca) is looking in the bench over there, maybe somebody is whistling or something.”
Gonzalez said he changed signs five times during the course of Harang’s outing and went to multiple signs even with no runners on base. The hits kept coming regardless.
Gonzalez said he wondered if Gattis was giving away signs, but then figured that wouldn’t account for the disparity in the Marlins home/road splits in general. Entering play Thursday, the Marlins were hitting .307 while scoring 6.3 runs per game at Marlins Park. They were hitting .215 with 2.7 runs per game on the road.
“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 when he told the story Thursday afternoon in the Braves dugout, describing how the Braves went so far as to look at the sculpture in left center field, wondering if there was somebody hiding in there with a camera.
“There was one guy sitting (in outfield seats) who had a red hat and an orange shirt,” Gonzalez said. “I said ‘Boy that’s a bad combination to have. I told (Jordan) Schafer and (Tyler) Pastornicky to keep an eye on that guy over there.’ The guy got up, went to get a coke.”
The Marlins, fresh off a series sweep over the Braves for the first time in five seasons, denied any such shenanigans.
"Just give us a little credit," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "I mean, we're out there playing the game the right way. Guys are battling and competing. That's how we're winning ballgames. Actually, I don't even think much about it because 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."
Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee chuckled when asked about the Braves' suspicions. He said when he was with Milwaukee, the Brewers were often accused of stealing signs because of their tilted home/road splits.
If the Brewers were stealing signs through the use of an outfield camera, McGehee laughed and said "I would have hoped they told me before I hit .220."
"I'm not going to say it's never happened in the history of the game before," McGehee said. "But we're not splitting any atoms, let's put it that way."