Wednesday, June 28, 2017

{allcanada} Stroman dominates as Blue Jays blank Orioles


TORONTO — As Marcus Stroman strode across the third-base line and headed toward the Blue Jays' dugout he looked up at the fans giving him a standing ovation and pounded his chest. He then clapped into his glove and shouted to the Toronto fans, egging them on.

Stroman earned the cheers from the crowd of 38,847 at Rogers Centre on Wednesday night by striking out eight over 7 2/3 scoreless innings as the Blue Jays shut out the Baltimore Orioles 4-0.

"I love this city, I love pitching in Toronto," said Stroman in Toronto's clubhouse after the game. "From the second I walk out of the dugout to go warm up the entire crowd is up and clapping and cheering.

"I feed off them, I feed off their energy. So whenever I see that, it only makes me want to be better for them."


Stroman (8-4) allowed only five hits and issued one walk, even though he threw a career-high 119 pitches. Despite the heavy workload, he still had five two-seam fastballs hit 94 miles per hour or higher in the eighth inning. A sixth pitch was clocked at 93.9 m.p.h.

"I work extremely hard in between starts to put my body in position where I'm able to go deep into games and maintain velocity," said Stroman. "My body feels great. I feel like I could've gone another inning, two innings. I feel great where I'm at right now."

Jose Bautista and Justin Smoak both had solo home runs to give Toronto (37-40) an early 2-0 lead. Bautista drove in another run and set up an unearned run with a fielder's choice in the fourth.

Relievers Danny Barnes and Roberto Osuna closed out the game for the Blue Jays, who pulled within a game of the Orioles for fourth in the American League East. Toronto is now 3.5 games out of the second wild card spot in the AL, while Baltimore is 2.5 out.

"I thought Stroman got stronger as the game went on," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "We needed that. We needed that game desperately."

Wade Miley (3-6) gave up four runs — three earned — and struck out five over five innings as Baltimore (38-39) had a three-game win streak snapped. Alec Asher pitched three innings of relief.

Bautista led off the game in the first inning with a rare home run to right field, backing Seth Smith up to the wall for a 1-0 lead. He hadn't hit a home run to the opposite field since Sept. 12, 2015, in a 12-5 victory over the New York Yankees.

Smoak added to Toronto's lead with a shot to dead centre in the fourth. It was Smoak's 21st of the season, a new career high for the eight-year veteran.

"It's great, but more importantly, we won the game tonight," said Smoak. "You always want to beat career highs and I was able to do that tonight."

Bautista piled on later in the fourth. With the bases loaded he hit a sharp grounder to Baltimore shortstop Paul Janish, who flipped the ball to second. However, second base umpire Ted Barrett ruled Kevin Pillar safe and Jonathan Schoop's throw to first pulled Trey Mancini off the base, letting Bautista reach safely.

The ball rolled out from under Mancini, allowing Steve Pearce to score from third and Pillar to advance to another base to make it 4-0.

Barnes gave up a walk but then fanned Schoop to end the eighth. Osuna, who recently admitted to media that he's struggling with anxiety off the field but feels better when pitching, drew a warm round of applause as he came out of the bullpen to start the ninth.

He struck out Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo and Mancini in quick succession to close out the game.

"(Osuna) got a great reception," said Gibbons. "I don't see anything wrong with him, he looks comfortable out there on the mound, but I think he told everybody that."

Notes: The Blue Jays signed Canadian outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal. He played for Toronto in 2015 and 2016 before leaving for Philadelphia in free agency. ... Shortstop Logan Warmoth and right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson took in batting practice with the Blue Jays after the two first-round draft picks signed with Toronto earlier in the day.

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