CLEVELAND -- This year has been so special in Cleveland because the city's sports history is littered with so much misery, from The Drive to The Fumble to The Decision.
Next, The Drone might join them.
Trevor Bauer is not in the same hemisphere as icons such as John Elway or LeBron James, and he will not cause the heartache of Earnest Byner's fumble in the 1987 AFC Championship. But if the Cleveland Indians lose the 2016 World Series, The Drone might be the lasting memory in town.
The Indians have overcome injury after injury, but it remains to be seen if they will have enough against a team as formidable as the Chicago Cubs.
Bauer is a middling starter with a career ERA of 4.42, but he has not put himself and his team in the best position to win. Before Wednesday, it hadn't really cost them. Wednesday was different.
Starting Game 2, Bauer had nothing, and the Indians lost 5-1 to the Cubs. In the nearly three weeks since he cut open his right pinkie trying to fix his drone, Bauer had pitched just two-thirds of an inning. He looked rusty and wasn't helped by the chilly weather, but he again let his team down. He lasted just 3⅔ innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits -- and he was lucky it wasn't worse.
After the game, Bauer had no real answers. He said the drone incident had no impact on his performance. His catcher said the opposite. Bauer said he threw more fastballs than he had in every other start except one this year because that was the game plan. His catcher said the opposite.
The Drone will never make it onto the Mount Rushmore of Cleveland's sports misery, but if Bauer is going to write a different story for this postseason, he will need to pitch better. He is expected to receive the ball on three days' rest Sunday for Game 5 at Wrigley Field. He has never pitched on three days' rest.
In Game 2, Bauer did not give the Indians much of a chance. He threw 87 pitches and still didn't make it out of the fourth inning. For perspective, Kluber went a full six and threw 88 pitches. But Bauer is not anything close to the Klubot.
Bauer said his pinkie had no impact and insisted that he went through his normal routine, even when it was pointed out that he threw to hitters during batting practice Monday, which is abnormal. His catcher, Roberto Perez, didn't subscribe to the theory that Bauer's lack of action had no impact on his precision, something that manifested itself in his inability to throw his breaking stuff.
"I think so," Perez said when asked if Bauer might have been thrown off by his lack of work. "Having not thrown in a week or so, I don't know. I have confidence in him that he is going to bounce back."
Bauer was way off Wednesday. More than a third of his 87 pitches were at least a foot-and-a-half off the center of the plate, which ESPN Stats & Information calls non-competitive pitches. There were 32 of them, and the Cubs were more than willing to watch them sail on by. Bauer leaned on his fastball, which the Cubs keyed in on after getting ahead in the count. Why was that?
“I’m not sure,” Bauer said. “We had a game plan. I was trying to follow it.”
When asked why Bauer threw so many fastballs, Perez said, "That wasn't part of the game plan."
Bauer isn't helping the Indians much as they attempt to win their first World Series since 1948. He was nothing special in his first playoff start, allowing three earned runs on six hits in just 4⅔ innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. Andrew Miller handled most of the hard work en route to victory.
From there, Bauer cut his finger on the drone and messed up the Indians’ pitching plans. With his team up 2-0 in the ALCS, the pinkie began spouting blood as he stood on the mound, and he was forced to exit without having pitched even one inning of Game 3. Cleveland won, and Bauer had the audacity to taunt the fans by using his good fingers to signal that the series was at 3-0.
Now the World Series is at 1-1. The Indians could still win and make the drone injury a sidenote to their first championship in 68 years. But if they don't, and Bauer doesn't come back strong in Game 5 at Wrigley, The Drone could become part of Cleveland's sad lexicon.