- Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
The Cleveland Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 in Game 3 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series despite losing starting pitcher Trevor Bauer in the first inning because of a cut that was bleeding all over the pitching mound.
While Bauer put the Indians and manager Terry Francona in a tough spot with the bullpen, getting pulled from the game may have actually helped the Indians and it was Blue Jays manager John Gibbons who made it happen.
In the first inning, a stitch on the pinky finger of Bauer’s pitching hand came loose and the massive cut, that happened as a result of an accident with a drone propeller, started bleeding profusely.
Francona would later say that he could not see how bad the bleeding was from the dugout. However, it was obvious to everybody watching at home and it had to be obvious to the players and umpires, especially the second-base umpire standing just behind Bauer.
Immediately, many fans, and even the radio announcers calling the game, wondered why the umpires were not stopping the game. Well, it turns out it was not their responsibility, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
“The umpires had talked about the situation [before the game] and what possibly might happen,” Olney said on ESPN Radio. “Basically, the umpires were waiting for John Gibbons to say to them, ‘Look, it looks like he’s bleeding and there might be a problem,’ because in this case, believe it or not, blood is treated as a foreign substance and that had been the discussion leading up to the game.”
That’s right. At this point, the umpires were planning to treat the blood just like they would something like pinetar. It is illegal if gets on the ball, but they would not do anything unless Gibbons said something. On top of that, presumably the umpires would not interfere in an injury matter unless Francona said something.
The umps were stuck.
Meanwhile, Bauer was struggling mightily. Of the 21 pitches he threw, only eight were strikes and it got worse once the bleeding started.
On the first pitch after the cameras noticed the wound dripping blood, Bauer threw a curveball into the dirt and he immediately looks down at his hand. A pitch later, he would walk Troy Tulowitzki, the second walk of the inning.
At this point, the Blue Jays had two runners on base and a pitcher who is not only wounded, but he’s a mess mentally. He’s trying to hide the bleeding from everybody by wiping it on his dark jersey and he’s spending more time thinking about the injury than getting the batters out.
Instead of Gibbons letting Bauer stay in the game – there was nobody warming up in the Indians’ bullpen and no indication that Francona had any plans to pull Bauer – and possibly get a big inning for the Blue Jays, Gibbons went to the umpires and said he wanted to have Bauer checked.
The umpires no longer had a choice. They had to act. The umps checked on Bauer. The Indians’s medical staff came out to check on Bauer. And everybody decided Bauer couldn’t go on.
Francona replaced Bauer with Dan Otero, who then got Russell Martin to ground out to end the inning.
The Blue Jays had a chance for a big inning early in the game and instead they gave it away. Now the Blue Jays are down 3-0 in the series and their season is probably over.