One of the week’s biggest baseball stories was Trevor Bauer’s claim that Astros pitchers have been using pine tar to get an edge. A Twitter battle with the Indians pitcher and Houston hurler Lance McCullers ensued and the story made headlines in all corners of the sport.
With the story fresh in their minds, some Yankees fans watched Thursday’s game against the Astros with a close eye and thought they’d hit pay dirt when YES Network cameras showed a closeup of McCullers’ left cleat. The shot showed what appeared to be a sticky substance that looked both clear and brown. The gunk soon hit Twitter and created a buzz.
— Tom Hanslin (@tomhanslin) May 3, 2018
Wait a second. What is that on Lance McCullers cleat?! pic.twitter.com/dTnqApi2Sh
— Justin Diamond (@justinddiamond) May 3, 2018
YES Network cameras show what appear to be a foreign substance on the cleat of Lance McCullers https://t.co/hFSQuNaixb
— terry (@t_tfranklin) May 3, 2018
But despite Reddit detectives getting in on the case, McCullers shut down the conspiracy before it could even get anywhere. He posted a video taken in the clubhouse showing that the “gunk” was in fact just a piece of dry but dirty plastic he’d used to patch a broken pair of “lucky cleats.”
Y’all ass. Let me wear my cleats in peace. pic.twitter.com/X43TqqgA5d
— Lance McCullers Jr. (@LMcCullers43) May 4, 2018
As FTW’s Ted Berg notes, the cleats had indeed been lucky. After giving up eight runs while wearing gray cleats on April 11, McCullers went on a three-start run wearing the busted-up black cleats and was 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA over that span.
They were not as lucky on Thursday, however: McCullers put together a solid if unspectacular start, giving up three runs over seven innings as the Astros ultimately fell 6-5.