He gave up five home runs, the most a single pitcher has ever allowed in one postseason performance. It also tied a World Series record for home runs in a game. It has been done three times previously — by the 1928 Murderers’ Row New York Yankees when Babe Ruth hit three and Lou Gehrig also connected, by the Bash Brothers-led 1989 Oakland A’s in the first game after the Bay Area earthquake, and by the sign stealing scandal-tainted Astros in 2017.
In McCullers’ case, speculation immediately started swirling about whether pitch-tipping was at play, given the 7-0 rout. He denied pitch-tipping had anything to do with his woeful showing, and Astros’ co-pitching coach Joshua Miller shared similar thoughts. Miller said the team always monitors for it, but didn’t notice anything specifically Tuesday.
McCullers, a 29-year-old right-hander, was in the game for a bit more than four innings.
So what is pitch-tipping — or tipping pitches — exactly?
It’s a term used to describe when a pitcher inadvertently gives signs, signals or motions to the opposing batter and team as to his upcoming pitch plans. There are multiple ways to do it. Some pitchers might tip their next throws by putting their hands, gloves or arms in certain places. Think of it like the poker version of a “tell.”
Alex Rodriguez caused some controversy around pitch-tipping, a phrase typically used around pitchers that may also be applied to other players, during his Yankee career. A 2009 book by Selena Roberts accused the former Yankee infielder alleged A-Rod tipped opposing hitters off to which pitch was coming so that he would do the same for them.
Analysts said it was more likely that Rodriguez was sending signals to his own team and being sloppy about them, making it easy for savvy opponents to pick up on the messages.