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Astros pitchers say World Series baseballs are fueling homer binge

Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

HOUSTON -- Houston ace Justin Verlander, who is scheduled to start Game 6 on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, said he believes the baseballs being used in the World Series are slicker than those used during the regular season. He said it was one reason the Los Angeles Dodgers and Astros combined for a record 15 home runs in the first four games.

"All you can ask for is consistency," Verlander said. "Over the years the numbers speak for themselves."

Astros teammate Dallas Keuchel, who started Game 5 Sunday, also complained about the baseballs after the Astros' Game 2 victory.

"Obviously the balls are juiced," he said.

Verlander pushed the issue at a news conference before Sunday's game when he said he doubted commissioner Rob Manfred's statement that the baseballs remain within long-standing specifications.

"I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," Verlander said. "On one hand," the former Cy Young Award winner continued, "you can have somebody that manufactures the ball (say) they're not different. And on the other hand you can (have) the people that have held a ball in their hand their entire life saying it's different. You value one over the other. Take your pick."

 

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney responded by saying: "World Series baseballs are tested at the time of manufacturing and are made from the same materials and to the same specifications as regular season baseballs. The only difference is the gold stamping on the baseballs."

Verlander acknowledged that since the same balls are being used for both teams, there was a fair playing field.

"I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, 'Hey, something is different here,' " Verlander said. "I think as a whole everybody is saying, 'Whoa, something is a little off here.' "

Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill has often noted the effect slick baseballs can have in creating blisters but said he noticed nothing wrong with the World Series balls. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts agreed, saying the balls felt normal to him. He suggested warm weather in the first two games in Los Angeles may have contributed to the inflated home run numbers.

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