HOUSTON -- After trading barbs on Twitter earlier in the day with Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer, the Houston Astros wanted no part in extending the war of words Tuesday afternoon when addressing reporters.
"If it's about Bauer, I got to go hit," Astros infielder Alex Bregman said as cameras approached his locker. "We're not playing them [Tuesday night]."
About an hour before reporters were allowed in Houston's open clubhouse ahead of its game against the visiting New York Yankees, Bregman posted to Twitter his reaction to a comment Bauer had made on the social media site insinuating the Astros' pitchers were cheating.
Relax Tyler ... those World Series balls spin a little different.... 😭 https://t.co/MZ7iIPXhbC— Alex Bregman (@ABREG_1) May 1, 2018
Bregman's Astros won last year's World Series. Bauer's Indians lost to the Cubs in the World Series the year before.
This Twitter tiff all started when Bauer replied Tuesday morning to a thread from a user who was curious as to why it appeared the spin rate of pitches made by Houston's pitchers had increased this season. The user wondered if the Astros had been doctoring their baseballs with a foreign substance.
Bauer is a science nerd. His father was an engineer, and Bauer adopted a scientific approach to becoming a ballplayer, trying to figure out how to use science to make himself a better pitcher. As a youngster at Hart High School in Santa Clarita, California, he took a class in Newtonian physics and developed an interest in what made a baseball spin.
To the user who asked about the Astros' spin rate, Bauer posted:
If only there was just a really quick way to increase spin rate. Like what if you could trade for a player knowing that you could bump his spin rate a couple hundred rpm overnight...imagine the steals you could get on the trade market! If only that existed...— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) May 1, 2018
Bauer's insinuations are that the Astros' pitchers are applying pine tar or some similar substance to baseballs while they are pitching.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch, naturally, disagreed. He also thought Bauer would have been better served to focus on his own team rather than participate in this peculiar online drama.
"I do think people need to sweep their own front porch and deal with their own situations rather than throw accusations that are unfounded," Hinch said. "He's decided to make himself front and center on dealing with baseball curiosities."
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel echoed that sentiment.
"I mean, you've really got to kind of look at yourself before you go at others," Keuchel said. "If there is something, it's the fact that everybody is trying to gain an edge on everybody. Whether it's pine tar or cameras or whatever this day and age brings about. There's all kinds of stuff going on. There's sign stealing.
"A lot of teams are trying to gain advantages over other teams, and if pine tar is one of them, it's got to be pretty widespread."
Like Bregman, Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. snapped back at Bauer on Twitter.
Jealousy isn't a good look on you my man. You have great stuff and have worked hard for it, like the rest of us, no need for this. I will ask though because my spin rate and spin axis on my 4 seem is a$$. https://t.co/jvbLuWWqgN— Lance McCullers Jr. (@LMcCullers43) May 1, 2018
Also like Bregman, McCullers didn't want to comment any further when reporters asked him about his Twitter response.
"What I said in my tweet is what I said," McCullers said.
The Astros did gain one ally in this bizarre drama, although he didn't want to wade in too deeply. Yankees manager Aaron Boone, whose team struck out nine times against Astros starter Charlie Morton on Monday, didn't think Houston's pitchers were doing anything illegal.
"I don't get into Twitter wars anymore," Boone said. "Guys may need help to get a grip on the ball, but I don't think anything fishy is going on."