Marcus Stroman turned in a solid seven inning start against the Orioles Tuesday night, doing just enough to pick up the win in allowing three runs. For large stretches of the outing, he was dominant and in complete control, interrupted by home runs in the 4th and 7th innings.
Over the first three innings, Stroman faced the minimum, needing just 41 pitchers and striking out three (his only strikeouts on the evening). He started a little slow, allowing solid contact on 1-2 pitches to the first two hitters, including a leadoff single. But he got a double play ball to end the inning and kept inducing weak contact on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Jays got on the scoreboard first in the 2nd inning, when Edwin Encarnacion led off with a line drive single, followed by back to back one out walks by Justin Smoak and Russell Martin to load the bases. Ryan Goins pulled a ground ball down the line for a RBI groundout, but Kevin Pillar - removed from the 8 hole - struck out to strand two runners and keep it 1-0.
They put some distance in the third when Michael Saunders led off with a double, and Jose Bautista dumped a single the other way to put runners on the corners with one out. It looked like the Jays were going to squander the opportunity as Encarnacion failed to cash the runner from third with less than two out in popping out. But Troy Tulowitzki picked him up with a line drive double that made it to the wall to score both runs and extend the lead to 3-0. Justin Smoak followed that up with a single to keep his perfect 1.000 BABIP, but Tulo was DOA at the plate by 10 feet so we'll blame Luis Rivera (I swear, every game recap I write a runner is thrown out by a mile).
In the 4th inning, Stroman ran into trouble. With one out, he threw a decent 0-1 cutter at the bottom of the zone to Manny Machado, who just destroyed it to left centre for a monster solo shot. That was followed by a hard single, a line drive out, and a walk to bring Matt Wieters up with two on and two out. He hit a ground ball between first and second that Ryan Goins got to and made a strong throw, but Wieters barely beat it out on to load the bases. Fortunately, Stroman got J.J. Hardy to pop out and contain the damage.
Stroman then went back into dominant mode, needing just 17 pitches over perfect innings in the 5th and 6th. With two out in the top of the 7th, Saunders ignited a two out rally with a single. Josh Donaldson walked, bringing up Bautista. He smashed a double to left field that scored Saunders, but was hit hit so hard Donaldson could not score even running with two out. It turns out Luis Rivera does have a stop sign after all. They couldn't push any more across, but the 4th run would end up being critical.
Mark Trumbo led off the bottom of the 7th for the Orioles, and hit a ground ball in the SS-3B hole which Tulo not only got, but made an incredible throw that would have probably got the out had Smoak been able to hold on. And which would have saved a run, since Wieters took Stroman yard three pitches later to make it 4-3. Stroman retired the next three to get out the inning with the lead.
That turned the game over the bullpen, in particular Brett Cecil for the 8th. He got into a jam by giving up a double to Machado and walking Reimold with one out, but got Chris Davis to popout and won the power-on-power, lefty-on-lefty matchup. Having done that, John Gibbons went to Roberto Osuna, who squelched the rally by inducing Trumbo to fly out. He then slammed the door shut with a perfect 9th.
Jays of the Day: Stroman (+0.131 WPA), Osuna (+0.324), Tulowitzki (+0.099) are the three by the numbers. But let's give out a few more. Saunders (+0.045) gets one for setting the table, 2/4 and a walk. Bautista (+0.068) was 2/5 with the game winning RBI and would have had the number with what should have been a walk in the 9th. Smoak (+0.012) was 1/2, 2 BB but he's really getting it for maintaining his three true outcome (strikeout, walk, 1.000 BABIP) season. Finally, Gibby gets one for bringing his closer in the 8th.
Suckage: Kevin Pillar (-0.113, 0/4). #MakePillar(g)8Again. Home plate umpire Tom Hallion gets one for a brutally inconsistent strike zone.
Tomorrow, R.A Dickey will faceoff with Ubaldo Jimenez at 7:05 eastern in game 2 of this series