Stroman holds Red Sox in check as Jays win 6-1
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman reacts after eneding the inning against the Boston Red Sox during first inning AL baseball action in Toronto on September 18, 2015. (Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press)
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, September 18, 2015 9:58PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 18, 2015 11:12PM EDT
TORONTO -- Marcus Stroman's remarkable comeback is becoming, well, more remarkable.
The 24-year-old right-hander, in his first 2015 home start after reconstructive knee surgery, held Boston in check for seven innings Friday as the Toronto Blue Jays opened up their final regular-season homestand with a 6-1 win over the Red Sox.
Stroman threw 96 pitches, 69 for strikes, giving up one run on six hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
"What an outing," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "For a guy who had no spring training, coming off the big injury that everyone knows about. It's really pretty remarkable.
"But Stro's different. To be honest, I don't think there's many guys that can pull that off really. Most guys probably would have been done for the year. But he was motivated to come back. He's a great competitor and he's got great stuff."
Toronto (85-62) is now a season-high 23 games over .500. It's the most games over .500 since the final day of the '93 season when the Jays (95-67) were 28 games over.
In winning its third straight, Toronto is now 32-10 since Aug. 2 while outscoring the opposition 256-144.
With the Mets beating the Yankees 5-1, Toronto moved 4.5 games ahead of the Yankees atop the American League East.
After recovering from surgery in March, Stroman returned Sept. 12 to beat the Yankees in New York -- where he gave up three earned runs and four hits in five innings.
Stroman is a walking, talking bundle of energy with five pitches and oodles of confidence on the mound.
"It's just exciting to be out there with the guys, the brothers -- just feed off their energy and go out there and compete," he said.
The sellout crowd of 47,126 at the Rogers Centre, whose roof opened mid-game, showered Stroman with applause from the moment he left the bullpen prior to the game.
"I had the chills from that point on," he said
"So special," he added. "It's crazy, man. Just the love Toronto has for me. It's incredible."
He walked out to "Miss Me" by Drake, which includes the line "Gone for surgery but now I'm back again."
While Stroman (2-0) handcuffed the Boston batters most of the evening, he got help from his fielders and the Jays bats.
Toronto recorded two timely double plays and Russell Martin nailed a Boston runner trying to steal a base. Josh Donaldson, Ryan Goins and Justin Smoak also made sparking fielding plays behind Stroman.
Boston (69-77) was not as stylish with the glove and paid for its mistakes
Smoak drove in two runs to go over 50 for the season. The Jays now have six players with 10-plus homers and 50-plus RBIs this season, the most since a team-record eight did it in 2010.
Toronto scored at least six runs for the 66th time this season to lead the majors. The Jays have won 26 straight when scoring five or more runs.
Stroman started with an eight-pitch strikeout of Mookie Betts, needing just six more pitches to retire the side. He limited Boston to a walk in the second, two-out single in the third and single in the fourth.
Things got more complicated in the fifth with three Boston singles and a wild pitch but Stroman -- riding a 4-0 lead -- escaped at the cost of just one run.
Stroman faced the minimum in the sixth and seventh innings. Liam Hendriks and Aaron Sanchez followed.
"You have to give Stroman a little bit of credit," said interim Boston manager Torey Lovullo. "He came in, he was very, very effective. He was aggressive with several pitches and he kept a very offensive team in check."
Donaldson added to his highlight reel in the third when he reached high in the air to snag a broken-bat shot from Josh Rutledge.
Goins acrobatically snagged a hard lineout in the sixth, with Smoak doing the same in the ninth.
"You can point to a lot of areas, reasons we've played better since the trades were made. But our defence has got to be a huge reason too," said Gibbons.
"You face less hitters, you bail the pitcher out of innings," he added. "That's huge."
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion had his club-record 44-game streak of getting on base snapped. Getting on via an error wasn't enough to keep it going.
Boston starter Rick Porcello (8-13) lasted six innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits. The six-foot-five right-hander is 1-5 lifetime at the Rogers Centre.
Friday marked the beginning of a nine-game home stretch that features series against division rivals in Boston, the Yankees and Tampa Bay. The Jays then wrap up the regular season with a series in Baltimore.