TAMPA, Fla. — Regarding the final pitch of the New York Yankees’ 2019 season, Aroldis Chapman’s first instinct was to apply baseball reasoning.
The Yankees' closer threw a hittable 2-1 slider.
Jose Altuve jumped on it, and the Houston Astros won the pennant.
“I accept responsibility,’’ Chapman said through an interpreter Thursday. “I gave up the homer and we lost.’’
And yet, there’s the image of Altuve, warning his waiting teammates not to tear off his jersey as he trotted toward home plate – fueling suspicions that the Astros' second baseman was wearing an electronic device, tipping him to what pitch was coming.
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Houston Astros' Jose Altuve celebrate after a two-run home run off New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman to win Game 6 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Houston. The Astros won 6-4 to win the series 4-2. (Photo: Matt Slocum, AP)
“It’s a popular video right now,’’ Chapman said with a wry smile. “And yeah, if you look at his actions, they look very suspicious.
“At the end of the day, I just don’t know.’’
'It was the extra edge'
As Yankees pitchers and catchers prepared for their first workout of spring training, Altuve and Alex Bregman were across the state, reading a contrition from prepared statements.
Bregman apologized for “the choices that were made by our team, by our organization and by me," following MLB’s investigation into Houston’s electronic sign-stealing methods of 2017 and 2018.
Altuve expressed remorse, and that “the whole Astros organization feels bad about what happened in 2017," when Houston’s cheating extended through the postseason.
On the way to the franchise’s first world championship in 2017, they won all four home games in seven-game AL Championship Series against the Yankees.
Chapman stands with CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, agreeing that the Yankees were cheated out of a chance at the World Series by the Astros’ actions.
“With all the details that have come out, I think it was the extra edge that allowed them to move on,’’ Chapman said.
Chapman applauded ex-Astros utilityman Marwin Gonzalez for his “courage’’ in stepping out to apologize and expressing regret about Houston’s electronic sign stealing in 2017.
“That’s an example for all those guys,’’ Chapman said, before the Astros held their press conference Thursday morning.
“(I) just feel they put baseball in a bad spot,’’ Chapman added. “A lot of people have suffered because of what they did.’’
But what about the 2019 Astros?
Did the cheating continue by alternate means?
And did Altuve somehow know, via electronic device, that a 2-1 slider was coming from Chapman?
“That’s a good question for him, for those guys,’’ Chapman said. “I just don’t know.’’
Pete Caldera is the Yankees beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Yankees analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @pcaldera
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