David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
Let’s face it. You never want to be leaking blood. From anywhere, at any time. But if you happen to be standing on a pitcher’s mound in October, better to be hemorrhaging from the ankle than the pinkie finger, as Trevor Bauer, the Indians’ unfortunate righthander, showed us last night during ALCS Game 3 at Rogers Centre.
In the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, Curt Schilling achieved immortality with the Red Sox by pitching with blood seeping through the sanitary sock on his right ankle, the side effect of experimental surgery done days earlier on a torn tendon sheath.
As soon as the crimson stain began to spread, so did the questions. Could Schilling continue to be effective with a bleeding wound? Would the ankle stay intact? The answers were yes, and kind of. The Curse of the Bambino eventually did fall that October, and Schilling’s heroics were a huge reason why.
As for the bloodied Bauer, the Indians won in spite of him, riding six relievers (two runs, eight strikeouts in 8 1⁄3 innings) to a 4-2 win that gives them a chance to complete the sweep today.
Bauer took the baseball with a deep, ugly gash in his right pinkie, where his drone had ripped out a sizable chunk of flesh, and managed to get only two outs before the bleeding ended his night. “When the circumstances aren’t in your favor,” he said, “good teams overcome them and find a way to win.”
Unlike Schilling, this was not an on-field injury. Bauer said he had been messing around with the drone when one of the propellers inexplicably fired to life. During his news conference Sunday, he brought the drone to the podium and illustrated what happened, believing he would be OK for the Game 3 start.
“Thankfully, there’s nothing really of importance there,” said Bauer, who needed 10 stitches to close the cut. “It’s just skin.”
Here’s a critical thing about skin, however. You need it to keep the blood in. And to complicate matters, Major League Baseball prohibits a pitcher from “attaching anything to either hand, any finger or either wrist (e.g. Band-Aid, tape, Super Glue, bracelet, etc.)” according to Rule 6.02(c) and Rule 8.02(b). Translation: if pressure or ice doesn’t stop the bleeding, you’re done.
Bauer somehow got through three hitters before the wound began dripping blood like a faucet as Troy Tulowitzki batted. To put it bluntly, this was gross. And if it continued, TBS was going to need a PG-13 rating for the remainder of the broadcast.
At first, Bauer tried to wipe the bloody finger on his navy-blue jersey, where the smudges couldn’t be seen. It didn’t work quite as well, however, on the slate-gray pants.
“There was kind of a puddle forming below him on the mound,” Jason Kipnis said.
Once Bauer walked Tulowitzki, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons came out to alert plate umpire Brian Gorman. Bauer clearly was having trouble commanding his pitches while trying to stem the blood loss. Why not let him struggle a bit more and maybe hang a curveball? Perhaps Gibbons was just feeling too nauseous to let it continue. And when Bauer finally headed for the dugout, the Rogers Centre crowd roared a bit too enthusiastically for his liking.
“That was the loudest standing ovation I’ve ever gotten after an outing,” said Bauer, who countered by raising his glove. “So I guess I enjoyed the class of them cheering since I was injured.”
Um, yeah. As for Cleveland manager Terry Francona, he was stuck with 25 more outs to get, and the whole drone fiasco probably didn’t feel as goofy as it did a day earlier. But he patched together a win, with Andrew Miller getting the four-out save.
“I admit that’s a little bit of a unique way to win a playoff game,” Francona said. “But the alternative is to lose. I don’t think anybody wants to do that.”
The takeaway? Don’t do drones, kids. At least not before the biggest day of your professional life.