Stroman finds groove, keeps Yanks grounded

April 15th, 2016

TORONTO -- Marcus Stroman's resiliency was on full display in Toronto's 4-2 win against the Yankees on Thursday, with a little help from his trusted sinker.

Stroman worked eight innings and allowed just two earned runs on three hits, but perhaps more impressively, recorded 17 outs on the ground, to just four in the air.

The outing marked a stark contrast to his last home start, the Blue Jays' home opener, in which the young ace was pulled after 5 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs against the Red Sox.

"My mindset is always be aggressive," Stroman said. "I pitch in the zone, everyone knows that, and I do everything in my power to make quality pitches. I feel like when I make quality pitches, I'm going to be able to keep the ball on the ground."

Toronto's No. 1 starter looked as though he wouldn't last long early in the game. After cruising through the first three innings on just 35 pitches, Stroman fought his command and was also a recipient of some bad luck in the fourth. The Blue Jays' 2012 first-round Draft pick ended the inning throwing 34 pitches and gave up a pair runs, despite just one ball leaving the infield.

"I battled a little adversity in the fourth, it was more frustration than anything," Stroman said. "I felt like my pitches were doing exactly what they needed to do, and I felt like I left up some pitches that weren't really well hit, but just landed in the right areas."

With one out in the fourth, Stroman hit Alex Rodriguez, and allowed back-to-back singles to Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann. A Carlos Beltran fielder's choice put the Yankees up a run, and after a walk to Chase Headley, a wild pitch brought home New York's second run of the inning. Stroman would end up striking out Starlin Castro to minimize the damage.

From there, Stroman turned it around and lasted another four innings without giving up a hit to the Yankees. The 24-year-old needed just 37 additional pitches, while recording eight of his final 12 outs on the ground. Stroman was quick to point out that his location and secondary stuff were important elements in helping seal the Blue Jays' first series victory of the season.

"I found a better feel for my spinning pitches," Stroman said about what made the difference in the later innings. "My curveball and slider were very, very good, and so was my sinker. I feel like when I'm locating my sinker, everything kind of plays off that pitch, and I think I was just down more in the zone today than I was last game, and the results really showed."