There had to be something familiar for Terry Francona as he strode to the mound.
The ALCS. A pitcher bleeding enough to be noticed. Almost 12 years to the day after Curt Schilling pitched through a bloody sock to force a Game 7 in the Bronx, Francona had another front-row seat to gore.
Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who sliced open the pinky finger on his throwing hand last week and required 10 stitches, began to leak red stuff onto himself — and the pitching rubber — during the first inning of Monday night’s Game 3. Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was tipped off and brought the situation to home plate umpire Brian Gorman’s attention.
Bauer was forced out of the game after recording only two outs. The Tribe bullpen would be tasked with getting the next 25. Francona would be tasked with managing that difficult project.
Enter Dan Otero for the next four. Enter Jeff Manship for the four after that. Zach McAllister pitched an inning before Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen split the next 10 outs. Andrew Miller recorded the final four via strikeout.
Game over. Cleveland 4, Toronto 2.
What started like a bad horror movie ended turned into a feel-good romp as Cleveland took a commanding three to zero lead in the series. This was a total team win with an ensemble cast.
For all of Jose Bautista’s talk of circumstances, it was the team from south of the border that had to overcome them. Led by Francona, they didn’t bemoan their situation or make excuses. They rallied together and emerged victorious. The box score reads like a long grocery list.
Cleveland tossed every ingredient in the cupboard together and made a delicious stew. Sure, one of their chefs left a mess in the kitchen but it’s nothing a little little spray clean won’t fix. Hell, in less than 24 hours, the Indians may be able to hose it down with champagne.