Ryan Tepera had himself a heck of a series. The right-handed reliever threw four scoreless innings and helped the White Sox win Game 3 of the ALCS. He finished the series with a1.93 ERA and had a 0.43 WHIP. But nobody will remember that because of the comments he made following the White Sox game 3 victory.
“They’re doing something different over there at Minute Maid. It shows you how many swings and misses they had tonight compared to Minute Maid.”
When asked to clarify what he was talking about Tepera responded with:
“They’ve obviously had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there. We can say that it’s a little bit of a difference. I think you saw the swings and misses tonight compared to the first two games at Minute Maid.”Everyone knew what Tepera was referring to. It was a veiled shot accusing the Astros of cheating. The Astros have been the center of ridicule across the MLB for a sign-stealing scandal that took the baseball world by storm.
An investigation uncovered that the Astros had been relaying information to batters during their championship run in 2017. There was also evidence the Astros were cheating during the 2018 and 2019 postseason. The players have dealt with visceral reactions from the fans ever since.
Jose Altuve was greeted with “Fuck Altuve” chants every time he was in the batter’s box on Sunday. The Guaranteed Rate crowd chanted “Cheaters! Cheater!” throughout the game.
Tepera’s remark was all the bulletin board material the Astros needed before Game 4. Astros catcher Martin Maldonado tweeted “Always good to get a extra motivation.”
Dusty Baker responded to Tepera’s comments by calling them “heavy accusations.”
He expounded by saying, “They’re about the same runs, OPS and everything as we are at home. And so I think they’re actually better at home than they are on the road,” Baker said. “So I don’t have much response to that other than I was listening to Eric Clapton this morning, and he had a song, ‘Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.’ You know what I mean?”
Alex Bregman took a shot at Tepera when asked to respond.
“He can say whatever he wants to say,” Bregman said. “I never heard his name until we played the White Sox. So, no man. I’m not bothered at all by it, really. Let them talk.”
Even White Sox manager Tony La Russa seemed agitated by Tepera’s remarks.
“It’s tough enough to try and play against a team like Houston without getting distracted. So we try and concentrate.”
Then the Astros’s proceeded to steamroll the White Sox. Their offense left little doubt that they had extra help hitting at Minute Maid Park, punishing the White Sox for 10 runs. When the dust settles they had 14 hits and only nine strikeouts. They lined up and celebrated their fifth consecutive trip to the ALCS while the White Sox were sent home.
After the game, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa fired back at Tepera calling his comments disrespectful.
“I encourage the players to, when you’re going to talk shit to other teams, state facts,” Correa said, who drove home had a pair of hits and RBIs. “If you don’t state facts, then you lose credibility in this game.”
“It’s unfortunate that he had to say those words because we came out here hungry,” Correa added.
They scored 16 runs against the White Sox in Guaranteed Rate Field. They scored more runs in Chicago than they did in Minuet Maid Park during the series.
It should be noted that the Astros swing and missed at 22 pitches in Game 3 compared to just 17 in Game 1 and 15 in Game 2. Tepera was not pulling stats out of thin air. White Sox pitchers also accumulated 16 strikeouts in Game 3 matching their total from Games 1 and 2 combined. In-Game 1 they had nine strikeouts and in Game 2 they only had seven. The Astros have a reputation for cheating and where there’s smoke there’s fire.
Unfortunately for the White Sox, Tepera threw gasoline on that fire and it blew up in their face.