As Marcus Stroman strode across the third-base line and headed toward the Blue Jays’ dugout he looked up at the fans giving him a standing ovation and pounded his chest. He then clapped into his glove and shouted to the Toronto fans, egging them on.
Stroman earned the cheers from the crowd of 38,847 at Rogers Centre on Wednesday night by striking out eight over 7 2/3 scoreless innings as the Blue Jays shut out the Baltimore Orioles 4-0.
“I love this city, I love pitching in Toronto,” said Stroman in Toronto’s clubhouse after the game. “From the second I walk out of the dugout to go warm up the entire crowd is up and clapping and cheering.
“I feed off them, I feed off their energy. So whenever I see that, it only makes me want to be better for them.”
Stroman (8-4) allowed only five hits and issued one walk, even though he threw a career-high 119 pitches. Despite the heavy workload, he still had five two-seam fastballs hit 94 miles per hour or higher in the eighth inning. A sixth pitch was clocked at 93.9 m.p.h.
‘I work extremely hard’
“I work extremely hard in between starts to put my body in position where I’m able to go deep into games and maintain velocity,” said Stroman. “My body feels great. I feel like I could’ve gone another inning, two innings. I feel great where I’m at right now.”
Jose Bautista and Justin Smoak both had solo home runs to give Toronto (37-40) an early 2-0 lead. Bautista drove in another run and set up an unearned run with a fielder’s choice in the fourth.
Relievers Danny Barnes and Roberto Osuna closed out the game for the Blue Jays, who pulled within a game of the Orioles for fourth in the American League East. Toronto is now 3.5 games out of the second wild card spot in the AL, while Baltimore is 2.5 out.
“I thought Stroman got stronger as the game went on,” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. “We needed that. We needed that game desperately.”
Wade Miley (3-6) gave up four runs — three earned — and struck out five…