By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — For the second straight postseason, an accusation has been made against the Astros for stealing signs.

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This time, though, Astros manager A.J. Hinch finds the accusations to be comical.

Prior to Thursday’s Game 4 in the Bronx, Hinch was asked about the accusations made by the Yankees that members of the Astros were whistling from the dugout to send signals to batters to let them know which pitches were coming.

“In reality, it’s a joke,” Hinch said.

The manager noted that numerous MLB employees are present in nearly ever space a team occupies before and during these high-stakes games, thus ensuring that no tomfoolery is afoot.

Much like Red Auerbach and the Celtics teams of yore, Hinch seemed to enjoy the positive effects for his team when an opponent starts to feel a sense of creeping paranoia.

“When I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it’s ridiculous,” Hinch said. “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.”

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and SNY’s Andy Martino reported Thursday that MLB investigated the Yankees’ claims and found no wrongdoing on behalf of the Astros.

Whistling or no whistling, the Astros delivered a back-breaking blow to the Yankees on Thursday night, winning Game 4 in the Bronx by a final score of 8-3 to take a 3-1 series lead. With Justin Verlander set to start Game 5 and with Gerrit Cole available for a Game 6 if necessary, the Astros are firmly in the driver’s seat in this ALCS.

It was in last year’s ALCS when an Astros employee was removed from an area near the Red Sox’ dugout in Fenway Park. Considering Red Sox manager Alex Cora had previously worked as Hinch’s bench coach, that allegation certainly raised many eyebrows around baseball. The Red Sox were also reportedly working on a tip from the Indians, who had lost to the Astros in the ALDS.

An anonymous executive last year said of the Astros, “They’ve been doing it for years.”

Another (or the same?) anonymous source this year told Martino that the Astros have “been doing [the whistling] for years.”

A Yahoo story last October also noted that the Dodgers believed that the Astros were stealing signs in the 2017 World Series. That story included accusations from the A’s about the Astros clapping in their dugout to relay signs to hitters, and accusations from anonymous players saying they witnessed the Astros hitting trash cans in order to do the same.

That’s the part that rankled Hinch.

“The problem I have is when other people take shots at us outside this competition,” Hinch said Thursday. “When you guys ask me this question, my face, my name is by my quotes, my opinions, my reaction is all for you guys to tweet out and put on the broadcast. But we have people that are unnamed, or you guys have sources that are giving you information. I suggest they put their name by it if they’re so passionate about it to comment about my team or my players.”

Hinch’s commentary was likely tied to a New York Post article written by George King, which included a bevy of anonymous and unfounded accusations against the Astros.

Whether the truth of these claims is 100 percent or 0 percent, the world may never fully know. But with MLB clearing the Astros in this instance, and with the Yankees’ accusations coming in a game where the Astros recorded three hits and zero runs, it appears as though the accusations will remain exactly that — accusations.

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And if Game 5 on Friday night gets out of hand, with the Astros taking a big lead in an increasingly grumpy Yankee Stadium? Things could get moderately interesting, to say the least.