Blue Jays rough up Royals for Marcus Stroman
Toronto right-hander pitches six innings for win in first major-league start
Marcus Stroman took care of the Kansas City Royals in the top of the first. The potent Toronto Blue Jays offence took care of the rest.
Stroman, the 23-year-old Blue Jays first-round draft pick in 2012, was solid in his first major-league start and the Toronto offence scored early and often in a 12-2 victory Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
"It feels great," Stroman said. "Anytime you get that kind of run support, it's fun to pitch."
After retiring the Royals in order in the first inning, the final two on strikes, Stroman sat as the Blue Jays scored seven runs in the bottom of the inning. The first eight Toronto batters reached base, a new club record.
The Blue Jays stretched that lead to 11-1 after four innings in emphatically ending a two-game losing streak.
"It's hard," Stroman said of the wait between his first and second inning.
"But obviously, you're not going to turn down seven runs. However long it takes the offence to keep mashing, I'll sit there all day.
"This offence is so special. This lineup is like playing a video game."
Stroman, who earlier in May made five appearances out of the Blue Jays bullpen, improved his record to 2-0 and saw his earned-run average fall from 12.79 at the start of the day to 7.30.
Stroman gave up five hits, struck out six batters and didn't issue a walk over six innings before 31,652 fans. Recalled from triple-A Buffalo on Friday, the five-foot-nine right-hander threw 94 pitches, 63 of those for strikes.
"I thought he was terrific," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He got a bunch of strikeouts.
"He was attacking the zone, working fast, doing all those things we expected. That was his first start of the year and he showed us something.
"We're pretty impressed. It was a good, bounce-back win for us."
Juan Francisco had three hits and four runs batted in, Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., had two hits and three RBIs and Adam Lind added three hits and two RBIs as the American League East Division-leading Blue Jays pounded out 14 hits off four Kansas City pitchers.
'A huge month'
The Blue Jays (33-24) had won a season-high nine straight games before the Royals (26-29) won the first two games of the series Thursday and Friday.
Toronto finished May with an AL-best 21-9 record.
"It's been a huge month," Gibbons said. "In 2008, we won 20 games and had the best record in baseball and I got fired three weeks later.
"I always enjoy a good month. But it means absolutely nothing in June."
The Blue Jays, who were 0-10 with men in scoring position and stranded 14 runners in a 6-1 loss on Friday, wasted few opportunities in the first inning against Kansas City right-hander Aaron Brooks. Brooks was making just his second MLB start and first since being recalled from triple-A Omaha.
The Blue Jays, who lead MLB in home runs, scored all their runs without a homer Saturday.
Toronto sent 12 men to the plate in the opening inning, the first eight of them reaching base. Each of the first five hitters scored and seven were in before Brooks (0-1) was given the rest of the afternoon off, getting just two outs and yielding five hits, three walks and two hit batters.
Jose Bautista doubled in the first run and Francisco's ground-rule double plated two more to make it 5-0. Other than those two extra-base hits, the Blue Jays scored via small ball — two RBI singles and a pair of bases-loaded walks — to turn the game into a laugher before all the fans had settled into their seats.
"It was good to let [Stroman] take a deep breath and just do what he does and throw all his pitches and let him relax a little bit," said Lind.
After Kansas City cut the Toronto lead to 7-1 in the second, Lawrie's second RBI of the day made it 8-1 in the bottom of the inning. Lind, Lawrie and Francisco drove in runs in the fourth to make it 11-1.
Todd Redmond gave up one run over three innings in relief of Stroman to earn his first save of the season.