• Brian L. Barefield

Let It Be Known: Greinke calls out pitches from the mound in Astros victory.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

Babe Ruth’s called homerun in the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs is by far one of the greatest sports debates of all time. Many have agreed that Ruth repeatedly pointed to the outfield to indicate that he was going to hit a homerun.

Others have debunked the theory by saying that he was pointing towards the pitcher or the bullpen that had been talking trash to him all game.

Either way, Ruth stepped to the plate with two strikes against him and blasted a monstrous homerun to put the Yankees up for good in the game.

Fast forward to Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. Houston Astros pitcher Zack Greinke wasn’t as brash and bold as “The Great Bambino” but he had a certain “Ruthian” vibe about him. In the Astros (8-10) 5-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants (8-12), the 2009 Cy Young Award winner begin to call out signs while he was on the mound to catcher Martin Maldonado.

With an empty Minute Maid Park due to no fans being allowed at baseball stadiums to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Greinke’s (1-0) chatter with his catcher was loudly heard by the viewers watching the game at home.

“Today, there was a man on second base, and it got all messed up and it took longer than I was hoping it would take,” said Greinke after going 6 1/3 innings giving up only one run to secure his first win of the season. “It’s 50 percent my fault and 50 percent Maldy’s fault. I don’t like taking a long time with a man on second base. I’m trying to find a way to speed that up. So far this year, it's been good. It got messed up today.”

This wasn’t the first time that the six-time All-Star was outwardly demonstrative when it came to the pitches he wanted to throw. During a game this past weekend between the Astros and Oakland A’s, Greinke was using hand signs to his catcher to indicate the pitch that was coming towards the plate. The results were different in that game due to no fault of his own (we have talked about the bullpen issues already) but he was very effective in that game as well pitching six innings and not giving up any runs.

Houston opened the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Maldonado’s three-run homer gave the Astros a four-run lead after Alex Bregman had tied the game at one apiece an inning earlier with an RBI single to center to score George Springer who was back in the starting lineup after missing games due to a sprained wrist.

Photo Credit/ Houston Astros

Unlike the night before when the Astros squandered a four-run lead in the final three innings of a 7-6 extra innings loss to the Giants, the bullpen was able to hold the lead to give Houston their first series win in the last three tries. Newly acquired relief pitcher Brooks Raley pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, but it was his miscommunication with manager Dusty Baker that was the highlight of the game behind Greinke calling his pitches.

In the top of the eighth inning, Baker called for Josh James out of the bullpen. As the Astros players were taking the field and James was making his way to the mound, Raley sprinted from the dugout as well crossing over the first base line. That meant he had to face at least one batter from the opposing team.

“I gave him knuckles indicating he was done,” Baker said. “I don’t just be giving out knuckles just because. What if I gave him knuckles and he went out the next inning and pitched bad? I can’t just take my knuckles back.”

Raley who has only been with the team three days and is 39 years younger than Baker thought that knuckles had a different meaning.

“Having been here a couple of days, I know now knuckles means ‘Have a seat,’” Raley said.

If he keeps being effective out of the bullpen, he may work his way up to a fist bump from Baker.

The Astros have an off day on Thursday before the Seattle Mariners come into town for a three-game series beginning Friday.

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