The AL East-rival Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays are in the midst of a three-game series at Tropicana Field, and this clash between contenders on Monday was spiced up by some haphazard espionage.
In the sixth inning of eventual Rays’ win on Monday, Tampa Bay outfielder Kevin Kiermaier slid into home plate, and during the action at the plate a data card with, in part, info on how Jays pitchers would attack Rays hitters apparently fell out of catcher Alejandro Kirk’s pocket. Kiermaier retrieved the card and kept it.
Here’s some video and additional context from Arash Madani:
According to Madani, the Blue Jays are “not happy” that Kiermaier picked up and kept the card. Madani later tweeted out Kiermaier’s somewhat rambling response when asked about what happened:
According to Kiermaier, he initially thought it might have been his positioning card for the outfield that he keeps in his pocket, but once he realized it wasn’t that, he declined to hand it over.
As Mandani and Shi Davidi of SportsNet later reported, the Jays dispatched a bat boy to the Tampa Bay dugout to ask for the card to be returned, but the request was declined, albeit in what seemed to be a joking manner. That refusal to return the card, which very likely provided the Rays with actionable insights into the Jays’ approach against them, is probably what stuck in Toronto’s craw. Whether you think Kiermaier and the Rays are out of bounds on this likely hinges on whether you think the Jays’ data card is fair game once it falls out of the catcher’s pocket.
Also of note is that the Rays in a since-deleted tweet apparently referenced the incident while noting that the team is on the verge of clinching the division title:
The Jays and Rays meet Tuesday and then Wednesday for the final time this regular season. Perhaps this matter will be revisited during those contests.
The Rays can clinch a postseason berth on Tuesday with a win over the Blue Jays, a Yankees loss to the Rangers (or Red Sox loss to the Mets) and an A’s loss to the Mariners. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, enter Tuesday’s contest with a 1/2 game lead over the Yankees for the final AL wild card spot.