Friday, November 21, 2014

Stroman sharp in Jays’ romp

TORONTO—Toronto Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons couldn’t help but worry just a little.
Marcus Stroman had a no-hitter alive through six innings, but the prized 23-year-old prospect was up to 91 pitches in a game the Jays were well on their way to winning.

Stroman’s third pitch of the seventh inning and 94th of yesterday afternoon hit Shane Victorino’s bat and landed in centre-field for a bloop single.
The sell-out crowd of 46,683 applauded while Gibbons could take a deep breath knowing he wouldn’t have to make the impossible decision on whether or not to keep the young pitcher in the game.
Stroman ended up throwing seven innings of one-hit ball in an 8-0 victory over the Red Sox.
“I can’t say that I’m glad he gave up a hit,” Gibbons said, trailing off.
“If this keeps going, you’ve got a young kid, you’re trying to win a division, and you keep throwing him out there over and over.
“I don’t know if relieved is the word but it didn’t hurt,” he remarked.
“Sorry, Stro.”
A night after 22-year-old prospect Aaron Sanchez threw two perfect innings of relief in his major-league debut, Stroman gave the Jays (54-49) not only an important victory in the AL East race but optimism about the future of the pitching staff.
“He had good stuff,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
“He was able to get the ball on the ground, get a ground ball double play when he needed to.”
Stroman improved to 6-2 with a 3.21 ERA, admittedly surpassing his own expectations in his rookie year.
“It’s definitely been a ride so far,” Stroman said. “But I’m not surprised.
“It’s just all the hard work that goes into it, and going out there having your game plan and attacking hitters,” he reasoned.
“That’s the biggest thing is just attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count.”
Stroman attacked Red Sox hitters yesterday with a still relatively-new sinking fastball to go along with his curveball.
He couldn’t locate his four-seamer well enough, so he adjusted—and the combination he stuck with helped him finish with seven strikeouts.
Catcher Dioner Navarro joked that the best thing the young right-hander did all day was not shake him off even once.
Better than that, he tamed a fearsome Boston lineup, including the same David Ortiz who tormented the Jays earlier in the week.
“He barrelled down, he got ahead of hitters, and he’s not afraid of throwing the ball over the plate,” Navarro said of Stroman.
“You’ve got to utilize your defence, we got a great defence out there, and he did a great job, I think, getting ahead of hitters and finishing was a big key to the success he had today.”
The Jays’ bats staked Stroman to a significant lead by beating up on Boston’s Rubby De La Rosa (3-3), who gave up six earned runs on nine hits in four-plus innings.
First-baseman Juan Francisco finished a double short of the cycle while left-fielder Melky Cabrera drove in two more runs.
It was an offensive explosion as the same Toronto team that got blown out 14-1 on Monday night to start the series put up 21 in the past three games to take three of four from the Red Sox (47-55).
Despite being without Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, and Brett Lawrie, the Jays remained three games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles.
“It’s hard to go through the whole season with nobody getting hurt,” Navarro noted.
“Hopefully when we get those guys back, they boost us up and we do what everybody wants us to do, which is make it to the playoffs.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Chicago beat Minnesota 5-2, N.Y. doubled Texas 4-2, Oakland bombed Houston 13-1, Kansas City edged Cleveland 2-1 (14 innings), Detroit downed L.A. 6-4, and Baltimore blanked Seattle 4-0.

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