A Bloody Finger Sidelines Trevor Bauer Early, but the Indians Barely Flinch


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Indians first baseman Mike Napoli hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning. He also had a run-scoring double in the first.

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Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

TORONTO — Trevor Bauer stood on the mound his right hand by his side, pretending as if nothing was wrong, even though blood was dripping steadily out of his pinkie like water out of a leaky faucet.

Bauer, the Cleveland Indians’ starting pitcher, had cut the finger while working on a toy drone Friday, and for a few days it was almost a joking matter. Bauer even carried the offending drone into his news conference on Sunday, which suggests he had packed it in his luggage and toted it all the way from Cleveland just for that.

“I brought my friend to answer any questions about what happened that I can’t answer,” he said to some laughter during the team’s workout in Toronto on Sunday.

There was no laughter on Monday when the injury forced Bauer from Game 3 of the American League Championship Series after he had faced only four batters. But a chorus line of six stout relief pitchers saved the day for the Indians, who won, 4-2, and took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Indians’ Mike Napoli hit a run-scoring double in the first inning and a homer in the fourth inning, and he scored twice, and Jason Kipnis also homered in the sixth inning for the Indians, who need only one more win to go to the World Series for the first time since 1997.

But Bauer’s status for the rest of the series, and perhaps the World Series if the Indians should advance, is uncertain.

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Indians starter Trevor Bauer had his hand examined before being removed from the game with a cut pinkie after pitching just two-thirds of an inning and walking two batters.

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Elsa/Getty Images

In a previous incarnation of the A.L.C.S., there was the bloody sock — Curt Schilling’s blood-soaked garment in the 2004 playoffs. This season, there is the bloody pinkie. By a coincidence, Schilling’s Red Sox are the only team in the majors to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the postseason.

Bauer was originally scheduled to pitch Game 2 in Cleveland, but he could not because of the injury. Josh Tomlin took his place and pitched well, further adding to the notion that the injury was simply a minor mishap and would not interfere with Cleveland’s pursuit of its first A.L. pennant in 19 years, or its first World Series title in 68 years.

But now the Indians will have to reconfigure their rotation. Indians Manager Terry Francona plans to bring back the Game 1 starter Corey Kluber on short rest for Game 4.

Bauer said on Sunday that his pinkie injury was “a nonissue” and that he had thrown on the side and had no problems. He said he injured the finger Friday while working on one of his many drones. A mechanical engineering major at U.C.L.A., Bauer said drones had become his passion over the last few years. He said he had a fleet of them.

Bauer said he had custom-designed the drone in question, using a 3D printer for some of the parts, and he assembled it himself. But when he plugged it in, the motor was on and one of the propellers sliced the back of the pinkie on his right hand. He called a cab and went to an emergency room to have it stitched.

On Monday he struck out Jose Bautista, the leadoff batter, and then walked Josh Donaldson before Edwin Encarnacion lined out to center field.

As Bauer pitched to Troy Tulowitzki, blood began to appear, and there were drops and smears on Bauer’s gray uniform pants.

After Tulowitzki walked, Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons called to the home plate umpire, Brian Gorman, and notified him of the blood. Bauer tried to wipe away the blood on his shirt as Gorman walked to the mound to investigate, but it was hopeless.

The Cleveland bullpen scrambled into action while the Indians’ trainer attended to Bauer. When it was clear the bleeding could not be stopped, Francona removed Bauer from the game and cobbled together a string of relievers.

Dan Otero replaced Bauer and allowed a homer to Michael Saunders in the second inning, which evened the score, 1-1.

Then the Indians called on Jeff Manship, followed by Zach McAllister and Bryan Shaw, and they held the Blue Jays to two runs in five and one-third innings.

In the seventh inning, Francona reversed his setup man and closer, using Cody Allen for five outs. Allen got out of a dicey jam with runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh when Coco Crisp made a fine sliding catch of Donaldson’s sinking liner. Then Andrew Miller secured the final four outs and the win.

When Bauer walked off the mound in the first inning, things looked tenuous for Cleveland. But once again the Indians’ bullpen stanched the bleeding.

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