Report: Rays' Kiermaier grabs Blue Jays' pitching-plan card, team refuses to give it back

The Tampa Bay Rays might have found a less creative and less subtle way of cheating than the Houston Astros scandal.

During the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, Rays centrefielder Kevin Kiermaier slid into home plate and found a card that reportedly fell out of Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk’s pocket. That card had the team’s game plan for how to handle Tampa Bay’s hitters.

The video makes it look even more mischievous.

It’s as if it happened in some sort of straight-to-DVD sports flick. The card lands perfectly in front of Kiermaier’s face, he almost appears as if he got direction from his team’s dugout to look down, and he takes a second to realize what's in front of him. The 31-year-old swiped it up and tried to keep the look on his face neutral.

On Tuesday, Sportsnet's Arash Madani spoke with the centrefielder about the incident.

“When it was there I saw a piece — the play happened so fast, honestly, play happened so fast. I picked it up, didn’t know what it was, whether it was mine or not,” he told Madani. "They’re all pretty similar and then as I picked it up I realized it was that. I never even looked at it, I’ll say that. But at the same time, I’m not going to drop it or hand it back...Everything was so quick and after I did it I was like, ‘dang, their scouting reports or whatever it was, was on the ground and I grabbed it.’ Like I said, it got to the point that I’m not going to return it or do that. It’s September, whatever. I didn’t know what was going on.

“I handed it to one of our other personnel in the dugout. I couldn’t even tell you what happened from that point on. I didn’t have a conversation, but I told one of our players: ‘I think I grabbed something from them.’ I don’t even know. I just know it wasn’t mine. But, again, it got to a point that I picked it up and I wasn’t going to return it or give it back. That was definitely weird. Everything happened so fast.”

We can all be certain that Kiermaier was not going to give it back and everything happened very fast.

Several members of the Blue Jays reportedly declined to comment on the incident. Once they realized what happened during the game on Monday, they sent a bat boy over to the opposing dugout for the data card. The only message they got back was to make light of the situation, along the lines of “we can’t hit Robbie Ray anyway.”

Ray finished the game with seven hits and three earned runs allowed over 4.2 innings of work in the Blue Jays' 6-4 loss.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: Yandy Diaz #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with Taylor Walls #6 and Kevin Kiermaier #39 after hitting a 3-run home run in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on September 20, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Yandy Diaz #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with Taylor Walls #6 and Kevin Kiermaier #39 after hitting a 3-run home run. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo spoke to reporters after Tuesday's game and said Cash offered an apology to him, pitching coach Pete Walker and GM Ross Atkins.

While the AL East divisional rivals aren’t competing for the same spot in the postseason, every win matters for Toronto at this point. With just 12 games remaining, the Blue Jays are holding onto the second Wild Card spot, just half a game above the New York Yankees. Tampa Bay is seven games above the next-best Boston Red Sox for the division title.

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