Indians-Blue Jays Game 3: Final score, things to know as Indians take 3-0 series lead
Despite the Indians losing their starter within one inning, they still won
The early story in Game 3 of the ALCS was Trevor Bauer's blood running from his right pinky. He was removed from the game due to a "substance" issue (as in, the blood can affect the movement of the pitch so the umpires forced the Indians to remove Bauer -- and that means this absolutely is not some sort of "toughness" or "pain" issue).
In the end, the story morphed into the Indians' bullpen taking over in a 4-2 win that gave them a 3-0 win in the ALCS.
A familiar story? Sure, but these weren't the usual suspects for a while. Dan Otero, Jeff Manship, Zach McAllister and Bryan Shaw put together 5 1/3 innings, combining to allow two runs on six hits. That's not elite, but they were thrust into a situation where they were desperately needed to get to the back-end duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. They passed that test with flying colors.
In the end, the Indians are now tasked with winning one more game before they lose four straight. That's all they have to do in order to move to their first World Series since 1997. They'll get their first shot Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET in Toronto.
Now for some things to know about Game 3 ...
1. The Indians' bullpen continued to dominate.
Thanks to Trevor Bauer's finger (see below), the Tribe bullpen was pressed into overtime duty in Game 3. In all, Cleveland relievers worked a hefty 8 1/3 innings on Monday. Over that sprawling span, they struck out eight, walked one, and permitted two runs. Thus far in the three games of the ALCS, Cleveland starting pitchers have worked 12 2/3 innings. Cleveland relievers, meantime, have pitched 14 1/3 innings. That's carrying the load right there. In related matters, Andrew Miller remains nigh untouchable.
2. The Indians' staff as a whole made a bit of weird history in this one.
Because of Bauer's early exit and Terry Francona's desire to avoid wearing out any one reliever, the Indians used seven different pitchers in Game 3. Normally, when a team empties the staff like that, it's either a 14-inning game, or they've given up that same number of runs. Something like that. In this one, though, the Indians kept runs off the board. So in that light, consider this bit of history ...
No team in @MLB history has ever won a postseason game without any one pitcher recording more than five outs.— Jason Lukehart (@JasonLukehart) October 18, 2016
3. Teams who remove their starter in the first inning usually don't win.
Tribe starter Trevor Bauer of course had to leave in the first inning because of his bleeding finger. He was bleeding onto the baseball and thus forced from the game under the foreign substance rule. As ESPN's Jerry Crasnick notes, teams who remove their starter in the first inning of postseason game are just 12-34 in those games. That makes sense, of course, as starters who are removed that early are usually knocked out of the game as opposed to suffering injury (before Bauer, Johnny Cueto of the Reds in Game 1 of the 2012 NLDS was the last starting pitcher to leave a playoff game in the first inning because of injury). In that out-of-context sense, the Indians defied history with their Game 3 win.
4. The Blue Jays can't score.
After ranking a quite respectable fifth in the AL in runs scored during the regular season and after averaging more than seven runs per game in their ALDS sweep of Texas, the Jays suddenly can't score. Through three games, they've tallied a total of just three runs. They entered Game 3 batting .159/.209/.190, and in Game 3 they went 7 for 33 against seven different Indians pitchers.
5. Mike Napoli got to Marcus Stroman for the first time.
Against the Jays' starter in Game 3, Napoli doubled, homered, and walked. Coming into Monday night, though, he hadn't enjoyed much success against Stroman ...
Mike Napoli: 0-9 in his career vs Marcus Stroman before tonight.— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 18, 2016
So far he's 2-2 with RBI double and HR.
The lesson here is that individual batter-versus-pitcher stats are almost always meaningless because of the necessarily small sample size. Napoli against Stroman reminded us of that.
6. Marcus Stroman endured his worst start since August.
Stroman in Game 3 allowed four earned in just 5 1/3 innings of work. Per Game Score, a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher's dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Stroman authored his worst outing since late August. On Monday, Stroman registered a Game Score of 41. On Aug. 27 against the Twins, he put up a Game Score of 38. This wouldn't have been all that surprising early in the year, but Stroman's been much more effective in the second half.
7. The Jays are obviously facing long odds.
They're down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, which means they'll need to beat Cleveland four straight times in order to advance -- including, probably, two Corey Kluber starts. The odds that they pull that off are remote, as you would guess. In MLB history, 35 teams have been down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, and only one -- the 2004 Red Sox in the ALCS -- managed to come back and take the series in question. Stated another way, just 2.9 percent of teams have pulled that off. In fact, 82.9 percent of teams down 3-0 go on to get swept. To say the least, it's not looking good for Toronto.
8. The Indians need to win Game 4.
In the most literal of senses, the Jays don't have to win in Game 4. They're up 3-0, after all. But considering Bauer's injury, the heavy use of the bullpen, and the heavy use of Corey Kluber, some extra rest in advance of the World Series would be highly desirable. If they're able to wrap up the series on Tuesday, then Francona's battered charges will enjoy six days off before Game 1 of the World Series. That sounds like just what they'll need.
Gonzalez was reportedly killed in a car crash in Cuba
Our Black Friday FA shopping guide includes a starting pitcher, slugger, super sub, and re...
Get 15 percent off any order of more than $75 at CBS Sports Shop
Need a gift for someone who loves baseball? We're here to help as the holidays approach
Several prominent Japanese-born Mariners and ex-Mariners have said they will help as well
Get your sports fans something that they'll wear all year