As it turns out, starting Carlos Santana in left field was only one of the controversial decisions Indians’ manager Terry Francona made this weekend. Francona announced his plan to start Trevor Bauer in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday evening, only four days after Bauer pitched through an abbreviated start in Game 2 on Wednesday (per Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes).
Bauer was cleared to pitch on Wednesday after suffering an unusual finger injury during the ALCS, but faltered during the Indians’ Game 2 loss with two walks, two earned runs and two strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings and 87 pitches. It wasn’t an easy outing for the right-hander, who labored through 29 pitches in the first inning alone and exited in the fourth after giving up his sixth hit of the night, a line drive single to the Cubs’ Addison Russell. Both Bauer and Francona denied that the injury was to blame for the short start, but until Bauer tightens his command of the strike zone, the skipper will likely keep right-hander Danny Salazar at the ready.
With the series tied 1-1, Bauer’s Game 5 start could clinch a World Series win for the Indians if they take Games 3 and 4 behind Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber, respectively. If not, they’ll be fighting to force a Game 6 and stave off the Cubs’ long-awaited title.