LOS ANGELES -- Marcus Stroman prides himself on being a big-game pitcher, and pitching Wednesday on one of baseball's biggest stages, he dominated.Stroman dazzled for Team USA as it secured its first World Baseball Classic championship with an 8-0 victory, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning and stifling a
LOS ANGELES -- Marcus Stroman prides himself on being a big-game pitcher, and pitching Wednesday on one of baseball's biggest stages, he dominated.
Stroman dazzled for Team USA as it secured its first World Baseball Classic championship with an 8-0 victory, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning and stifling a Puerto Rican lineup that had slugged its way through the tournament with a plus-37 run differential and a perfect 7-0 record. His performance earned him Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament as well as a spot on the 2017 All-World Baseball Classic Team.
"I love pitching in these moments, I love the atmosphere," Stroman said. "I feel like the bigger the game, the more I'm able to get up, the more effective I am. ... This was probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, game I've ever pitched in."
• Stroman was dealing (and dancing) in dominant outing
The Blue Jays right-hander didn't allow a hit until Puerto Rico's Angel Pagan led off the seventh with a double. Stroman exited to a standing ovation from the 51,565 fans -- both supporters of Puerto Rico and the U.S. -- in attendance at Dodger Stadium after throwing 73 pitches, shy of the Championship Round maximum of 95.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
The no-hit bid matched the longest of Stroman's career. He held the Red Sox without a hit for six innings on July 24, 2014, before yielding a leadoff single to Shane Victorino in the top of the seventh.
Stroman consistently worked low in the strike zone, fanning three batters and inducing 11 ground-ball outs. The lone blemishes on Stroman's otherwise stellar line were Pagan's hit and a leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran in the second inning, which was promptly erased when Yadier Molina hit into a double play and Stroman fanned Javier Baez to end the frame.
"The game is really easy when you have a starting pitcher perform like that," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It makes everyone else look good. ... [Shortstop Brandon Crawford] made some great plays, but other than that, we had some pretty easy outs. Some weak ground balls, some weak contact."
"His sinker was really moving a lot, it wasn't that hard for me to call the game," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "His ball was moving so much, and he was just mixing, varying his times, varying his windup. He was able to keep them off balance. He did an amazing job and was definitely a lot of fun to catch."
Wednesday's performance was a notable improvement from the last time Stroman faced Puerto Rico, when its hitters jumped on him for six consecutive singles at the onset of his second-round start in San Diego, which the U.S. lost, 6-5.
"That lineup's unbelievable 1 through 9," Stroman said. "You have to do your best to control them and contain them each and every pitch, because there is no letup."
Stroman finished the tournament with a 2.35 ERA through three starts (15 1/3 innings). He struck out nine batters against just two walks.
"It was an unbelievable experience," Stroman said, "and I'll be back in four years to defend the title."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.