TORONTO — Trevor Bauer and his injured finger couldn’t make it through the first inning Monday night. That means Corey Kluber is expected back on the mound for Cleveland a day earlier than planned.
Bauer was removed from Game 3 of the AL Championship Series on Monday night after blood began dripping from his right pinkie. The right-hander had been pushed back two days to Game 3 because he cut the finger on a drone last week. He received stitches, but with two on and two out in the first inning against Toronto, there was already blood on his hand and coming out of his finger.
Bauer shook his head in disappointment while being tended to on the mound, and he was replaced by Dan Otero after 21 pitches.
Bauer’s early exit meant Kluber is expected to pitch Game 4 on short rest for Cleveland. Manager Terry Francona had said that was his plan if Bauer’s finger acted up.
Francona said before Monday’s game that rookie left-hander Ryan Merritt would start Game 4 if everything went OK with Bauer. Then the Indians would keep the rest of their pitchers on normal rest, with Bauer in line for a potential Game 7.
But Francona also left open the possibility that Bauer’s finger wouldn’t hold up.
“If something happens with Bauer and we have a little bit of a malfunction in his finger … then we would bring Kluber back (Tuesday), and then Merritt would pitch the next day,” Francona said. “Then that would allow Kluber to pitch a Game 7 if need be.”
Kluber pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 1 on Friday.
Cleveland entered with a 2-0 series lead, but the Indians have been battling rotation injuries. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar aren’t on the ALCS roster, and Bauer’s problem left Francona in another tough spot.
Merritt’s major league resume consists of 11 innings in the regular season this year. He made one start, holding Kansas City to a run and three hits in five innings Sept. 30.
“It’s awesome that they trust me,” the 24-year-old Merritt said. “I’m just going to go out there and have fun, enjoy it, and try to give my team the best chance to win.”
Salazar, who is not on the ALCS roster because of forearm issues, threw to hitters on the field at the end of Cleveland’s workout Sunday.
“We’re not ready to activate him but he is doing much, much better,” Francona said. “Like we said before, the first goal was to get him completely healthy, and then when that happens we’ll see where and if it leads to him helping us in a game.”
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