TORONTO -- Marcus Stroman would be best served forgetting all about the first half of his disappointing season. Saturday afternoon's start against the Orioles was a good start.Stroman limited Baltimore to one run on five hits and two walks over seven strong innings to lead the Blue Jays to a
TORONTO -- Marcus Stroman would be best served forgetting all about the first half of his disappointing season. Saturday afternoon's start against the Orioles was a good start.
Stroman limited Baltimore to one run on five hits and two walks over seven strong innings to lead the Blue Jays to a 4-1 victory at Rogers Centre. The innings matched a season high, and seven strikeouts were his highest total since Stroman made his season debut against the Yankees on April 1.
There were occasional signs of trouble, with Stroman facing multiple baserunners in the first and fourth innings, but each time the product of New York was able to escape the threat and limit the damage. The Orioles went just 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and they left five men on base.
"I'm pretty good with adversity, usually," said Stroman, who surpassed the 100-pitch mark for the first time this season. "This game is built off ups and downs. I know I didn't have the first half that I wanted but I've always been someone who prided myself on the second half, finishing strong. And that's something I will look to continue to do this year."
Stroman has been alternating between good starts and bad starts since he returned from the disabled list on June 23. He has completed seven innings with one earned run or fewer in three of his six starts, but in the other three he has combined to allow 10 runs over 14 2/3 innings. The consistency hasn't always been there, but the goal will be finding it over the next two months and starting next year with a clean slate.
Toronto's rotation has kicked off the unofficial start to the second half of the season on a positive note. Right-hander Sam Gaviglio tossed 7 2/3 innings during Friday night's victory, and when combined with Stroman's outing on Saturday, it marked just the third time this season the Blue Jays rotation tossed at least seven innings in consecutive starts. The only other time that happened this season was June 29-30 (Stroman and Gaviglio) and July 8-10 (Stroman and Ryan Borucki).
"Show up every day and compete," Stroman said. "I think that's something us, as Blue Jays, have been able to do over the last few years. Regardless of what the expectations are, just show up every single day, go out there and compete. I love my team. I wouldn't want any other guys. It's just a matter of going out there, and knowing what we're capable of, going out there and dominating."
The Blue Jays were able to secure Stroman's third victory of the season thanks in most part to a three-run fourth inning off Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb. Randal Grichuk chipped in with an RBI double while backup catcher Luke Maile had an RBI single and starting shortstop Aledmys Diaz finished with a couple of hits. Cobb was charged with all four runs (one earned) on five hits and three walks with four strikeouts.
"He's a pretty good pitcher to be honest with you," manager John Gibbons said of Stroman. "Since he has come back from the DL, he has been really good. I think he is just pitching like he's always pitched here. I thought he did a good job today working ahead in the count. When he runs into some trouble, he falls behind. It was a good outing for him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The arm: Blue Jays left fielder Teoscar Hernandez gave his starter a major boost in the top of the first inning with a perfect throw to take extra bases away from Jonathan Schoop. After Timothy Beckham led off the game with a single, Schoop followed with a liner to the corner in left field. Beckham easily advanced to third, but Schoop tried to stretch the single into a double and the move quickly backfired. Hernandez threw a strike to second baseman Devon Travis and instead of the Orioles having runners on the corners with nobody out, Stroman was left with a runner on third and he was able to limit the damage to one run after that.
"I didn't come out very strong today," Stroman said. "I was leaving some pitches up in the zone. So whenever you can get a big play like that from your defense it's definitely a momentum shifter, and kind of told me that I need to kind of kick it in gear and start making better pitches."
Welcome relief:Tyler Clippard was charged with blown saves in each of Toronto's last two opportunities, so something had to change in the back end of the Blue Jays bullpen. That's where Dennis Tepera came into play on Saturday afternoon. Tepera, who was activated from the 10-day DL just prior to the All-Star break, tossed a scoreless ninth to pick up his seventh save of the season. The 30-year-old has now tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings since rejoining the Blue Jays, and it's possible he will generate interest from other teams in the days leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Tepera received a bit of help in this outing from Grichuk, who crashed into the wall to make a highlight-reel play and rob Chris Davis of a possible double.
"I thought he looked good in Boston the other day, his first outing in awhile," Gibbons said. "He had a clean inning, then of course the All-Star break and he came back last night. I think he looks fine. It wasn't something we were really worried about, but it got his attention. Watching him pitch last night and today, I don't think you'd know he had any issues. We'll keep an eye on it. We'll be smart."
The Blue Jays picked up a victory despite not hitting a home run for just the third time this season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Blue Jays won a crucial challenge in the bottom of the fourth inning that went a long way in determining the final outcome of this game. With a runner on first, Yangervis Solarte hit a little dribbler back to the mound which initially appeared as though it would be a double play. The problem was Cobb's throw to second was high and wide off the bag. Instead of focusing on the forceout at second, Beckham still tried to turn two on the play. Solarte was ruled safe at first and after a brief delay, Justin Smoak was called safe at second as well because Beckham did not maintain contact with the bag while attempting to make the catch.
Left-hander J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Orioles on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET. This could be Happ's final start for Toronto as he continues to be the subject of trade rumors in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Baltimore is set to counter with right-hander Andrew Cashner (2-9 4.56).
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.