NEW YORK — The quiet spaces between actual games in the American League Championship Series have increasingly become filled with topics related to pitch tipping, sign stealing and other aspects of gamesmanship, much of it pointed at the Houston Astros. Finally, after one accusation too many, Astros manager AJ Hinch’s patience with the subject seems to have worn thin.

“I think it’s kind of funny,” Hinch said during a teleconference Wednesday, when Game 4 between Houston and the New York Yankees was postponed because of rain. He seemed less amused Thursday.

“We talked about this the other day,” Hinch said. “And in reality it’s a joke. But Major League Baseball does a lot to ensure the fairness of the game. There’s people everywhere. If you go through the dugouts and the clubhouses and the hallways, there’s like so many people around that are [responsible for security].

“And then when I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it’s ridiculous. And had I known that it would take something like that to set off the Yankees or any other team, we would have practiced it in Spring Training. It apparently works, even when it doesn’t happen.”

The final straw for Hinch seems to be regarding accusations by the Yankees that the Astros were using whistles to signal pitch calls to their batters in Game 1, a 7-0 New York win. A source told ESPN.com that MLB has looked into the whistling charge and found no evidence of cheating. Hinch says that the scenario that was being looked into was virtually impossible given the security measures that the league has in place for the postseason.

“The game in question, we got three hits and no runs,” Hinch said. “And so nobody heard it. You guys have audio, video, people in places, and nothing — and there’s no evidence of anything.

“So, to the Yankees, there’s nothing bad going on. Pitch tipping is a little bit of a different story. If you don’t want us to know the pitch is coming, don’t do something that demonstrates what pitch you’re going to pitch or what you’re going to throw. But they’re doing the same thing.”

For his part, Yankees manager Aaron Boone addressed the whistling issue by saying, “We’re confident that we’re buttoned up in every possible way and vigilant. I really don’t think it’s an issue.”

However, while not referring to the Astros specifically, Boone did say there are limits to how communication within games should be shared.

“There’s boundaries,” Boone said. “Yeah, we could have a conversation for days on that. So, yeah, there’s boundaries. There’s things you’re not allowed to do and things that are perfectly within the context of the game.”

Astros pitcher Justin Verlander was asked if his club was simply good at getting into opponents’ heads. He chuckled and said, “Maybe.” However, he said that when it comes to deciphering the ocean of data and video captured from the games in baseball these days, everyone has the same tools.

“I think MLB has done an incredible job this year,” Verlander said. “There’s been someone in the video room every game of the season. Somebody is there full time. You’re not allowed to have a live feed anywhere in the stadium that the players have access to. They check all that. I think that’s been an incredible step forward for MLB to go against the trend of all this technology that’s out there.

“They did what I think was the best thing possible to resolve whatever issue, paranoia teams have. Obviously it didn’t resolve the paranoia — it’s still out there for every team.”

For Hinch, the shame of it is that accusations such as the ones that have surfaced this week detract from a dynamic matchup between 100-win teams with a trip to the World Series on the line. He, for one, is done with the issue.

“There’s nothing going on other than the competition on the field,” Hinch said. “The fact that I had to field the question before a really, really cool game at Yankee Stadium is unfortunate. But we can put it to rest. That will be the last question I answer about pitch tipping or pitch stealing.”


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