Skipper: '18 loss 'wasn't because of trash cans'

February 1st, 2020

CLEVELAND -- Speaking on the eve of the club’s Tribe Fest event, Indians starting pitcher said Major League Baseball’s report that the Astros used technology to steal signs confirmed suspicion that he and his teammates have had for years.

Clevinger and manager Terry Francona joined several Indians players at Cleveland’s House of Blues on Friday and shared their feelings about MLB’s findings and the effect Houston’s actions may have had on competition during the 2017 and ’18 seasons.

“I mean, me and [former Indians pitcher] since 2017 have been waiting,” Clevinger said. “There's no way they can keep this glued together. There's no way everyone's going to keep their mouth shut. There's no way they can keep not picking up contracts, not giving free agents money, and no one is going to say anything.

“We knew something was going to happen, and, sure enough, it did.”

In Cleveland, much of the discussion has centered around the 2018 American League Division Series, which the Astros won in a three-game sweep over the Indians. However, MLB’s investigation into the cheating could not prove any wrongdoing by Houston in those playoffs, and Francona said that he doesn’t consider their advancement to be unfair.

“I mean, you can beat as many trash cans as you want,” Francona said. “I think we had two hits off of [Gerrit] Cole and three off of [Justin] Verlander. That wasn’t because of trash cans.”

The Indians had two hits vs. Verlander and three vs. Cole, but Francona's point remains. Francona also dispelled rumors that the Indians have similarly tried to utilize technology to gain an unfair advantage.

“I’ve heard people tell us things we’re doing here in Cleveland, and I know it’s not happening,” Francona said. “Everybody has anxiety about what the other team might or might not be doing. I think where I fall is we need to first take care of ourselves. Like, are we throwing pitches or are we throwing the ball right down the middle? Then let the league worry about the other stuff.”

Added Clevinger: “People see the repercussions now. … I have no idea where it’s going to go from here, whether it’s detrimental enough, but I think there’s enough punishment involved that it’s going to steer teams away from doing it. Hopefully, there will be more checks and balances involved in the video department, be it with MLB through each game.”

The Indians and Astros are scheduled to play exhibition games at Houston from March 23-24. Their regular-season matchups are June 29-July 2 at Cleveland and July 24-26 at Houston.