NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer
TORONTO (AP) — Trevor Bauer and his drone were ready to explain themselves.
The Cleveland right-hander kept the mood light at his news conference Sunday, showing up with the drone he said cut his finger and forced him to miss his start in Game 2 of the AL Championship Series. Bauer is scheduled to pitch Game 3 on Monday night against Toronto, with the Indians leading the series 2-0.
“I brought my friend to answer any questions about what happened that I can’t answer,” Bauer said while the drone sat on display on the table in front of him.
Bauer received stitches on his right pinkie after the accident Thursday night, and both he and manager Terry Francona now say they don’t expect the injury to affect him much when he faces the Blue Jays. Josh Tomlin started in Bauer’s place Saturday and Cleveland won , which no doubt made it easier for the Indians to chuckle a bit about the mishap.
“He was messing around with his drone. He wasn’t out in some alley at 3 in the morning and got cut on a beer can,” Francona said. “It wasn’t like he was waterskiing. He just cut his finger. It wasn’t remotely malicious.”
Bauer, a self-described “nerd” and big “Star Wars” fan who studied mechanical engineering in college, said he became interested in drones after seeing a video of them a few years ago. He said he likes to learn new tricks and fly them close to obstacles, which can lead to crashes. He is constantly having to repair his drones.
Bauer said he cut his finger on a propeller.
“I plugged it in, like I’ve done thousands and thousands of times. … This one spun up at max throttle,” he said. “It never happened to me before. I have no idea why it happened, and my finger just happened to be in the way of the prop and it cut me.”
Bauer’s injury was another setback for a Cleveland rotation that lost Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar toward the end of the regular season. The Indians have kept winning anyway. The AL Central champions swept Boston in the Division Series and have taken the first two games from Toronto.
The Blue Jays will send Marcus Stroman to the mound Monday, but the bigger issue for them right now is their hitting . Toronto has scored only one run in the ALCS so far, failing to break through against Cleveland’s starters and looking overmatched against the Indians’ Andrew Miller-led bullpen.
“All you’ve got to do is go look at video and try to count how many times they’ve thrown pitches over the heart of the plate,” Toronto slugger Jose Bautista said. “It hasn’t been many.”
Miller has thrown 3 2/3 scoreless innings in this series, striking out five in each of the first two games. He became the first pitcher with two separate postseason outings of at least five strikeouts in no more than two innings, according to information provided by the Indians from the Elias Sports Bureau.
“If he’s on, there’s not a lot you can do with him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got an overpowering fastball, and he’s got that incredible slider.”
Bautista said Miller now seems to be throwing his slider a couple different ways, and the 6-foot-7 left-hander didn’t dispute that.
“I throw it pretty differently and not always intentionally,” Miller said. “When you throw it backdoor, I want as much horizontal break (as I can). I want the ball to start as far off the plate and come back and catch the corner. In certain counts, if I’m trying to get a swing and miss, I want more depth.”
The Blue Jays can take some solace in the schedule, which now calls for three games in three days. That might prevent Francona from being quite as aggressive with Miller in relief, although Toronto has to avoid a sweep for all three of those games to be played.
If the Blue Jays stay quiet offensively, it could be a short series.
“It’s a slugging team, that’s how they’re built,” Gibbons said. “You are what you are a lot of times when you get to a certain point in this game, and you live and die with it.”
NOTES: The Blue Jays said 2B Devon Travis, who had already been ruled out for the rest of the postseason, will likely need a knee scope. He aggravated a right knee injury in Game 1, and an MRI showed a bone bruise with a small flap of cartilage caught in the joint. He is expected to be ready for spring training. … Stroman hasn’t pitched since Oct. 4, when he threw six solid innings in the wild-card game against Baltimore .
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