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Stroman splendid but Bieber better, Jays shutout 4-0

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Two straight strong outings for Stroman heading into the trade deadline

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland 4 at Toronto 0

If that was Marcus Stroman’s last start with the Blue Jays — or even his last home start at Rogers Centre — it was one heck of a swan song. Stroman had all his pitches working in a brilliant seven inning outing over which he allowed just one run on five hits. Unfortunately, the guy on the other side managed to be just a little bit better as Shane Bieber threw a complete game one-hitter on 102 pitches (thereby narrowly missing a Maddux).

In the early going, Stroman was completely dominant. A clean first, and while he gave up hits in the 2nd and 3rd, they were ground ball singles. It wasn’t until two outs in the 4th that he was really squared up for a single (followed by another liner but right at Sogard). The one blemish on his outing came an inning later, when in a reprisal of the series opener, Stroman got the first two batters of the inning but couldn’t close it out.

Greg Allen hit his second ground ball single of the evening, and came home on a double from Kevin Plawecki. The play at home was very, very close but it looked like Allen did indeed just get his hand in before the tag to put Cleveland ahead, for good as it turned out. Stroman rebounded with an infield popup, didn’t allow a ball out of the infield in a perfect 6th and worked around a walk in the 7th.

The bats however, were nowhere to be found. Biiber was certainly sharp, and it’s not like he’s chopped liver in the midst of an excellent season. But it shouldn’t have been to the extent of taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning, when Eric Sogard broke it up cleanly with a sharply hit ground rule double down the line. It was their only hit of the game.

The Jays did realize two free passes. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. worked a walk leading off the 2nd, but was immediately erased as Justin Smoak couldn’t carry over his form from yesterday and grounded into a ball play — which meant Bieber faced the minimum into the 7th. Bieber hit Lourdes Gurriel Jr a batter after the double, amplifying the only opportunity the Jays had with the heart of the order up. But Vladdy flew out and Smoak struck out, and that was that.

Nor that it really mattered, but the bullpen did not have a good night allowing Biiber and Cleveland some breathing room. Daniel Hudson gave up a double that scored on a sac fly in the 8th. Wilmer gave up three hits in the 9th to again double the margin.

Jays of the Day: Stroman (+0.242 WPA). We’ll give one to Sogard (+0.077) for being the only one to get a hit, and it being a leadoff double in a one run game.

Blew Jays: Smoak (-0.211) and really pretty much every other player who appeared in the game. Danny Jansen came very close (-0.095) but threw out a runner so it doesn’t seem right to single him out as merely one in a jungle of 0-fers.

The Blue Jays will have an off-day yesterday (source: Pat Tabler), and by that he means tomorrow as the Jays don’t have a game for the first time since the All-Star break. Friday the Rays come to town which seems exactly like what the Jay needs right now.

On a sidenote, I want to note that I spent about 20 minutes searching for a Justin Beiber lyric I could work into the recap title, and I all I can say is that’s 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.