The Cleveland Indians continue to shock the baseball world. 

Even though starting pitcher Trevor Bauer had to come out of Game 3 with a bleeding pinkie finger in the first inning, the Cleveland Indians came through with a 4-2 win at the Rogers Centre, and they are on the verge of knocking out the Toronto Blue Jays and advancing to the World Series.

It was a surprise that the Indians beat the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series. Repeating the task in such a straightforward fashion against the Blue Jays is an even bigger shocker.

Bauer had cut his finger while repairing a drone that he owned, and his start was pushed back from Game 2 to Game 3. That change turned out to be ineffective, as Bauer’s injured finger started bleeding almost immediately, and manager Terry Francona had to remove him after two outs.

Rules prevented the pitcher from putting anything like a bandage on the injury, which forced the Indians to make it a bullpen game.

That should have helped the Blue Jays, but the Indians led 1-0 and 2-1 before finally taking the 4-2 lead that would serve as the final score. The Indians got home runs from Mike Napoli (who also had an RBI double) and Jason Kipnis, while Michael Saunders hit one for the Blue Jays.

Relievers Dan Otero, Jeff Manship, Zach McAllister and Bryan Shaw combined for 5.1 innings before Francona brought in closer Cody Allen and superb relief weapon Andrew Miller for the final three innings.

This time, Francona used Allen in the seventh and into the eighth, while Miller closed out the game by striking out three batters in 1.1 innings.

“That wasn’t the way we drew it up, but [our] bullpen—that’s one of the most amazing jobs I’ve ever seen,” Francona told reporters after the game (h/t Paul Hoynes of “I mean starting with Otero to Manship to McAllister to Shaw. If anybody has a hiccup, we probably lose.”

The Indians will start Corey Kluber in Game 4 on Tuesday afternoon at 4:08 p.m. ET, and their ace will have a chance to complete the triumph and sweep the ALCS. Kluber has thrown 13.1 scoreless innings in the postseason and has a 2-0 record. He beat the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS and the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the ALCS. 

He is starting on short rest for the first time in his career.

The Blue Jays have a formidable task in front of them, as they now must win four straight games if they are going to advance to the World Series. That’s a near-impossible task, as only the 2004 Boston Red Sox were (famously) able to climb out of such a hole in MLB history.

The Blue Jays will send Aaron Sanchez to the mound for his second career postseason start. He also started against the Texas Rangers in the ALDS and was not effective in that effort, giving up six earned runs on three hits and four walks.

Sanchez was 15-2 during the regular season with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP. He hopes to have a more even-keel performance against the Indians in this start.

“Hopefully just to keep my emotions in check,” Sanchez said, via, of what his previous start taught him. “I’ve been there before, last year, but it was out of the ‘pen. The roles were a little bit different.”



A Cleveland sweep certainly was an improbable result before the start of this series, but not any longer.

The Indians are sending their best starting pitcher to the mound at the Rogers Centre, and Kluber has shown he can make his best pitches in critical situations.

Sanchez is a talented pitcher, but he did not pitch well in his only postseason start. Combine that with the 0-3 hole and it seems unlikely the Blue Jays will solve Kluber and his remarkable bullpen.

Look for the Indians to win another low-scoring game and sweep the previously hard-hitting Jays out of the postseason.

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