I couldn't let two days go by without remarking on this in more than 280 characters, so here we are.
James Paxton - a native of Canadia - and long-time Astros Nemesis decided to use the Easy Way Out and talk to the New York Post to blame the Astros for "stealing signs," which has somehow become an Ovaltine Message Decoder for "I Pitched Like Crap But I Don't Really Want To Admit It."
Let's listen to this dumb sack of Maple Syrup.
I did find out I was tipping my pitches when there were guys at second base.
Hold the phone. The Houston Astros have seen James Paxton for 310 Plate Appearances in his career (13 appearances). No other team has more PAs against Paxton than the Astros. And yet, the Astros collectively have a .664 OPS when Paxton pitches. That is the 5th-worst OPS of any team against which he has made five or more appearances. The Royals (6 starts, .538 OPS), Angels (12 starts, .546 OPS), Twins (5 starts, .584 OPS), A's (12 starts, .627 OPS) are worse against Paxton.
Houston got to Paxton last Wednesday, tagging him for 8H/5ER, 5K:3BB, and 2HR, in 4IP. His 12 outs were the 2nd-fewest outs he had recorded against the Astros in his career.
Now that it has been determined that the Astros had a really good night against a pitcher with whom they have significant issues, let's take Paxton's comments line by line.
Paxton mentioned that he was tipping his pitches "when there were guys at second base." That's cool. Let's see the situations in which the Astros got their hits on Wednesday:
Altuve home run. No one on base.
Gurriel triple. Correa on 1st base.
Brantley single. No one on base.
Correa double. Brantley on 1st base.
Marisnick double. No one on base.
Altuve homer. No one on base.
Brantley single. No one on base.
Furthermore, the Astros when there were guys on 2B:
Springer, bot 2nd: GIDP.
Gurriel, bot 3rd: BB.
White, bot 3rd: Strikeout swinging.
Diaz, bot 3rd: Gurriel out trying to advance.
Springer, bot 4th: Strikeout swinging.
So that's it. The Astros with literally no one on 2B: two singles, two doubles, one triple, two home runs.
The Astros with a runner on 2B: zero hits, one walk. James Paxton is a moron.
They were fouling off some pretty good pitches, taking some pretty good pitches. There were stealing some signs. So that's didn't help.
The last half of this quote is a grammatical mess. But it sounds like he's Really Mad about it.
Let's check in with the New York Post:
Paxton wasn't absolving himself of blame.
But he said Houston was stealing some signs. So he's trying to absolve himself of blame. He accused his opponents of cheating, just so we're clear.
He didn't pitch well. He lived in the middle of the plate far too often, especially against as lethal an offense as the Astros boast.
This is the Astros' fault, apparently.
But he felt something was off during the game, and after watching video of the outing, it was obvious. Special adviser Carlos Beltran pointed it out to him Saturday.
Hey it's Former Astros Great Carlos Beltran! Famous for helping the Astros use video to observe tendencies in order to know what's coming!
It revolved around his knuckle-curve. His knuckle was showing before each delivery, a tendency earlier in his career.
Haha wait a second. Paxton fell into previous tendencies while making his 3rd start with a new team against a team he had previously enjoyed success? SHENANIGANS, OBVIOUSLY.
So they could see if I was going soft or hard...[Beltran] showed me some video. [He said] 'Look at these takes, look at these swings. They wouldn't be making these swings or these takes if they didn't know what was coming.'
I may be biased, but it sounds like Paxton has a delivery issue and it was obvious enough that some hitters could tell what was coming, but it had absolutely nothing to do with anyone from the Houston Baseball Team having someone on Second Base.
That being said, I also didn't throw the ball very well.
Here we go.
I was over the middle of the plate too much, even when there were guys not on second base.
No but a handful of seconds ago it was the guys on second base - which actually and verifiably resulted in absolutely nothing offensively - who were responsible for Paxton's poor outing.
So I need to be better as well.
There it is. Paxton was bad and had an easy complaint, courtesy of the Red Sox, that the Astros like to steal signs. HOWEVER. If there was any sign-stealing, it was because Paxton couldn't throw his knuckle-curve correctly and not as a result of an Astro on 2B.
I think I've been trying to do too much, trying to be better than I am, and I just need to realize that I'm good enough how I am, or who I was in Seattle.
Wow more philosophical wisdom from Paxton that has nothing to do with Astros stealing signs. This feels notable. James Paxton is a dumb-dumb and he used an easy excuse in a media market that could actually use it and exploit to make it seem like it wasn't his fault. Do not fall for his lies. It's all his fault. Screw that guy.