TORONTO (92.3 The Fan) – Four batters into Monday’s Game 3 of the ALCS, Indians manager Terry Francona was removing his bloody starting pitcher from the ballgame. The wheels were turning, and the bullpen was already in full warmup mode.
And yet, all Francona could think about was his tooth and winning a raffle.
Safe to say not much fazes the Tribe’s manager at this point.
It all began when Francona chomped down on his tobacco-chewing gum mix right before Monday’s game.
“Literally, my lower tooth, the veneer popped out while I was chewing,” Francona said. “That thing came off and I’m chewing and it felt crunchy. I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ So, I undid my tobacco and there’s my tooth.”
Francona handed the tooth to the team’s trainer, James Quinlan, for safe keeping and told him to get a hold of the team dentist, saying, “Tell him he better find me a [freaking] dentist up here tomorrow.”
It wasn’t long after losing his tooth, Trevor Bauer started losing blood. Lots of it. Enough that his previously lacerated right pinkie was not going to allow him to continue.
Francona, minus a tooth, made his way to the mound to examine Bauer with Quinlan by his side. After the determination was made that the righty wouldn’t last beyond the fourth batter he faced, Francona made the motion to the pen, signaling for Dan Otero to enter the game.
As he waited for Otero to join the infielders on the mound, Francona looked up at the scoreboard at the Rogers Centre. Something caught his eye.
“I just happened to glance up,” he said. “They had that 50/50 thing up on the scoreboard. It was up to $82,000. I told [Mike Napoli], I said, ‘Nap, we’ve got to get in on this.’ That’s why we were out there laughing.”
In the midst of potential chaos, Francona, intentionally or not, found a way to keep the mood light.
The Indians’ manager returned to the dugout, where he watched his bullpen arms begin their eventual 8 1/3 solid frames of work in Monday night’s 4-2 victory. But in the back of his mind, he couldn’t stop thinking about his missing tooth.
“James came back in like the third inning,” Francona explained. “And I said, ‘Tell me you found a dentist.’ He goes, ‘I came to tell you about Trevor.’ I go, ‘[Forget] Trevor!'”
After Cleveland closed out their Game 3 victory over the Blue Jays, Francona met with the media in the postgame press conference room. But as soon as he wrapped up his meeting with reporters, he traveled out into the city of Toronto in search of a dentist capable of fixing his tooth.
At 1:00 a.m., he succeeded.
“Some dentist met me downtown and [freaking] put it back in,” Francona said. “How about that? That’s unbelievable. I’m good to go.”
Maybe the fixed tooth was a bigger relief than the way the Indians emerged victorious in Game 3. And now that the tooth is back in it’s rightful place, Francona can focus on his club potentially reaching the World Series with a victory over the Jays in Game 4 in Toronto.
“It didn’t feel good when that tobacco hit that root during the game,” Francona said. “I was so conscious of it. I kept [tonguing at it]. I was so mad. [Our team dentist] was in the training room the other day and he goes, ‘Hey, how are the teeth doing?’ He goes, ‘They’re [freaking] invincible.'”