Blue Jays pitcher Jay Jackson said he was tipping his pitches while facing Yankees star Aaron Judge, who has received widespread scrutiny for a sideways glance before his mammoth home run off the Toronto right-hander.
Television cameras showed Judge quickly glance toward the Yankees’ first-base dugout before his 462-foot homer in the eighth inning Monday against Jackson.
The Blue Jays’ broadcasters speculated that Judge was looking for some kind of signal, and Toronto manager John Schneider called the slugger’s glance “kind of odd,” but Jackson offered a straightforward explanation during an interview with The Athletic.
“From what I was told, I was kind of tipping the pitch,” Jackson told The Athletic as part of a report published Wednesday. “It was [less] my grip when I was coming behind my ear. It was the time it was taking me from my set position, from my glove coming from my head to my hip. On fastballs, I was kind of doing it quicker than on sliders. They were kind of picking up on it.”
It was the second homer of the night for Judge, who said after the game that he was trying to identify “who was chirping from our dugout” at plate umpire Clint Vondrak.
The Blue Jays, however, did not buy Judge’s explanation, and Schneider mentioned that the reigning American League MVP could have been receiving signals from Yankees first-base coach Travis Chapman.
“If they knew it was coming and he clipped me, he clipped me,” Jackson told The Athletic. “I’m glad he hit it as far as he did.”
Judge’s homer came on a 3-2 slider from Jackson — the sixth consecutive slider he threw in the at-bat. Jackson, who was demoted to the minors before Tuesday’s game, said multiple members of the Blue Jays informed him that he was tipping pitches.
“One of the guys told me I might have been tipping my pitches,” he told The Athletic. “Then the video guy came back later and said, ‘Hey, we might have picked something up on the difference between your slider and fastball. It might have been something those guys were keying off of. Just be conscious of it. You might want to change it up next time.'”
The Yankees have not been accused of using electronic equipment to decipher the Blue Jays’ signs, which is against Major League Baseball rules.
“If you’re doing things in plain sight, I think that you have to be able to correct them and you have to be willing to have the consequences be what they are,” Schneider told reporters, according to The Athletic. “If it’s done fairly — that’s part of the game. Everyone’s looking to help their teammates, everyone’s looking to pick up on tendencies, so anything that’s happening on the field in the right way — totally fair game.”
The Blue Jays did again raise the topic of where Chapman and third-base coach Luis Rojas were standing during Tuesday’s game, leading to a brief shouting match that involved Schneider, Rojas, Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker.
Deciphering an opponent’s signals without electronic equipment and relaying them to a batter is not against MLB rules, and Boone said he found the arguments over coach positioning to be “tired.”
“It’s just silliness,” Boone said. “It’s ridiculous and I think everyone — I hope on both sides — realizes it.”
Judge’s response to the situation was another monstrous home run — a two-run blast that broke an eighth-inning tie and lifted the Yankees to a 6-3 victory Tuesday. The 448-foot drive to center field broke part of a white maple leaf sign — Canada’s national symbol, and the logo for Canada’s West Jet airline, sponsor of the center-field bar area.
The Yankees and Blue Jays continued their three-game series Wednesday night in Toronto.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.