No, Astros pitcher Zach Grienke wasn't giving away pitch sign before Ramón Laureano home run

Jason Owens
·2 mins read

Did Zach Grienke really give away a pitch to the Oakland A’s?

The Houston Astros pitcher caused a stir on Thursday when he held up two fingers moments before throwing a 3-2 pitch that A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano deposited into the left field stands for a two-run home run in Game 4 of the ALDS.

That looks ... bizarre. Was Greinke atoning for the sins of the Astros sign-stealing scandal by blatantly giving away pitches to a playoff opponent?

If that seems unlikely, it’s because it is.

While it’s fun for fans to think that a six-time All-Star pitcher for baseball’s most reviled franchise would suffer such a monumental lapse of judgment, the more likely explanation is much more mundane.

Houston Astros' Zack Greinke pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of Game 4 of a baseball American League Division Series in Los Angeles, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Houston Astros' Zack Greinke pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of Game 4 of a baseball American League Division Series in Los Angeles, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Here’s what more likely really happened

Greinke almost definitely wasn’t signaling what pitch was coming. It’s much more likely that he was communicating a pitch sequence with catcher Martin Maldonado.

So rather than signaling “two” for a curve ball, Greinke was more likely signaling a code to his catcher that only he and his Astros teammates know to indicate what series of pitches was coming. Plus, that looked like a slider, not a curveball.

In fact, Grienke addressed the same issue when a similar signal became a story in the regular season during a win over the San Francisco Giants.

“I don’t like taking a long time with a man on second base, especially,” Greinke said. “I’m trying to find ways to speed that up. So far this year has been good, but it got messed up today.”

For Laureano, it doesn’t appear to matter what Grienke is or isn’t signaling. In his very next at-bat on Thursday, he took Grienke deep for another home run to left field to cut Houston’s fifth-inning lead to 5-4.

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