With the baseball world watching Team USA manager Jim Leyland handed the ball to Toronto Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman for a chance at redemption versus Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic final.
Marcus Stroman was locked in from the get-go ready to atone for his loss five nights earlier at the hands of Team Puerto Rico. In that contest, Stroman was touched up for four runs in the first inning as Puerto Rico hit six consecutive singles off the young hurler. Stroman would settle down for the rest of the contest but his American comrades would fall 6-5.
The Blue Jays fireballer faced some adversity leading up to the start as his mother was the subject of harassment on social media due to her Puerto Rican roots and her son’s decision to represent Team USA rather than Puerto Rico.
The 25-year old Stroman was dealing early and often from the onset no-hitting Team Puerto Rico until the 7th inning. This may have been the best I have ever seen Stroman throw, he was sensational on the International stage and was awarded the MVP award for his efforts.
Here is an inning by inning breakdown of his dominant outing.
1st Inning: Stroman only needed 9 pitches to induce three ground ball outs, two to the second baseman and one that he fielded himself. The “Stro-Show” topped out at 95 mph to Carlos Correa but was consistently around 93-94 mph in the first inning.
Toronto Blue Jays
2nd inning: Stroman would issue a free pass to leadoff hitter Carlos Beltran but no sooner elicited Yadier Molina to ground into a tailor-made double play on a dirty sinker. Javier Baez struck out on a breaking ball down and away to the end the frame.
In the Top of the 3rd Detroit Tigers’ Ian Kinsler gave Stroman some insurance hitting a 2-run blast and giving Team USA the early lead which they would never relinquish.
3rd inning: Stroman makes easy work of the bottom third of the order inducing flyouts to both corner outfielders as well as a swinging strikeout of the 9th hitter Enrique Hernandez. Once through the order, Stroman had faced the minimum and had not allowed a hit.
4th inning: Much of the same in the 4th as Stroman got a flyout to right field, a ground ball to the pitcher which he handled easily and strike out of Correa. Stroman was amped after the strikeout and was seen chirping the Puerto Rican bench as he swaggered and shimmied his way off the field.
The offence would take on two more runs in the 4th upping the Team USA lead to 4-0.
5th inning: Beltran/Molina/Baez all grounded out to shortstop Brandon Crawford as Team Puerto Rico once again cannot find the answer to Stroman.
6th inning: Stroman once again induces three more ground outs, two to the second baseman and one to the shortstop giving him 10 ground ball outs on the night.
After 6 innings Stroman had thrown 68 pitches, 41 for strikes of his 95 WBC pitch count limit and had not surrendered a hit.
Team USA tacks on 3 more runs in the top of the 7th given Stroman and company a commanding 7-0 lead.
Surprisingly after sitting for approximately 30 minutes in the top half of the 7th, Stroman was back out for the bottom half of the inning.
7th inning: Stroman offers up a leadoff double to Angel Pagan and that was the night for the Stro-Show who was intense as always as he walked off the field to a thunderous roar.
Stroman’s Final Line: 6.0 IP, 1 Hit, 1 BB, 3 SO, 10 ground ball outs.
As always when the pressure is on Marcus Stroman has the uncanny ability to dig deep and come through whether it be in the postseason for the Blue Jays or on the world stage.
Stroman earns the WBC and MVP crown in the spring, now time to work on the World Series title in the fall, Blue Jays fans can hope.