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There was the little shoulder shimmy as he exited the mound after the first inning. After the second, it was a hop and a skip over the line between third-base and home.
And in the fifth, a yell from Marcus Stroman loud enough to be heard in all corners of Fenway Park after a key strikeout of Red Sox all-star Mookie Betts to get out of a jam.
It was all part of the Stro Show, a regular occurrence from the Jays hottest starter, who was on again in Monday’s opener of a four-game series vs. the Red Sox.
The only thing missing on this night of mostly solid work was a ‘W.”
After Stroman’s own error led to the erasure of the Jays 3-0 lead, the Jays were able to rally for a 4-3 win in the opener of a four-game series against the AL East leading Red Sox.
As is the case with most everything with this team, it didn’t come easy.
After cruising along through six innings with that three-run margin and looking every bit the dominant pitcher he’s been of late, Stroman hurt his own cause with a costly error at first base. The flamboyant Jays starter got to the bag in time to cover a Jackie Bradley Jr. ground out with just one problem — he missed the bag with his foot.
The result was a Stroman error and with runners at the corners, trouble loomed. Sure enough, the Red Sox rally began with a Brock Holt sacrifice fly to score Andrew Benintendi from third.
With two out, all star Betts returned to the plate and rapped out an RBI single to make it a one-run game. Enter Dominic Leone in relief of Stroman to face Dustin Pedroia, who belted the first pitch he faced off the Monster in left field. That brought home Christian Vazquez to tie it at 3-3.
The only positive on that play was that Betts got greedy and ran through the stop sign at third and was gunned down by a Kevin Pillar throw/Russell Martin tag to keep it tied.
And just like that, with all three runs unearned, Stroman missed his opportunity for win number 10 on the season.
The Jays didn’t wait long to retake the lead, however, when Steve Pearce rapped a single to score Justin Smoak. It was Pearce’s second RBI of the night, following a solo home run in the second.
That was it for the scoring as the red-hot Jays closer Roberto Osuna came in to record his 22nd consecutive save and 23rd on the season with a one-two-three ninth.
Stroman is unabashedly proud of the emotion he brings to the mound. And the way manager John Gibbons sees it, if it helps fire him up, all the better.
“When he’s out there, there’s usually energy and it is a show, no doubt about that,” Gibbons said. “It does benefit you.
“He’s come through for us many times — he wants that, he wants to be the guy. That’s a big part of it, too.
After dropping two of three in Detroit on the weekend, the Jays were certainly in need of a stout Stroman effort on Monday. With the (eventual) win, the Jays avoided falling 10 games behind the AL East leading Sox and to within eight, with three more remaining at venerable Fenway.
Before almost every inning Stroman has a variation of some sort of chest pump and the finger to his mouth in the silent gesture. It’s not always beloved by opponents, but it’s more than an act.
That Stroman didn’t start in Detroit was by design, in part to set the table for what the coaching staff hoped would be a big night to kick off the important four-pack at Fenway.
“We gave him a little bit of a breather over the break because he’s been one of our most worked starters and then he did have that little blister and we let that heal even better,” pitching coach Pete Walker said. “He’s definitely pitched in some big games for us.
“This team needs to get going and he’s the guy you want out there.”
The Jays jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to a Kendrys Morales double off the Green Monster bringing home Russell Martin (single) and Justin Smoak (walk). … The Jays bumped that lead to 3-0 in the second when Pearce led off with his solo homer … Quirky Pearce note: He was drafted but didn’t sign with the Red Sox in 2004. They are the only AL East team he hasn’t played for … The Jays certainly took advantage of Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who was making his first start since being placed on the DL (knee) on June 2 … It was a rough night at the plate for Jose Bautista who reacted in frustration at a marginal called third strike in the seventh.
WORN OUT SOX?
After a gruelling weekend in which the Red Sox played 34 innings in 30 hours, did the Jays catch the AL East leaders at the perfect spot?
Manager John Gibbons was certainly hopeful after the Sox came off a gruelling weekend with their fired rivals, the New York Yankees.
On Saturday, the Bronx Bombers got the best of them with a 4-1 win in 16 innings. On Sunday, the two split a day-night double header. Combine the two days and the Yanks and Red Sox tussled for 15 hours and 30 minutes.
“I can remember years ago it was always the Yankees and Red Sox pulling away early,” Gibbons said. “But (if) you’d play them right after they’d played each other — it was always a good time to play them because they were beat to death, bullpens beat to crap.
“Maybe it’s a good time to play them now.”
The Sox didn’t exactly get the opportunity to rest on Monday, either after a painfully slow game that took three hours and 18 minutes to complete.
AROUND THE DIAMOND
Jays pitching coach Walker is confident Francisco Liriano will be fit to get the start on Thursday after exiting Saturday’s game with neck soreness. “He played catch (Monday) and right now he’s scheduled to pitch on Thursday,” Walker said. If Liriano falters, expect Mike Bolsinger to get the call in the series finale … Also expect reliever Joe Smith to rejoin the team this week. Smith had another rehab appearance with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons on Monday …. This series marked the first time since 1997 that the Jays and Red Sox have had their first Fenway meeting of the season post all-star break … The Sox have had solo possession of first in the AL East since June 29 … With Baltimore’s 3-1 win over Texas, the Jays once again missed an opportunity to climb out of a share of last place in the East … The Jays left eight runners on base, the Red Sox five … Ryan Tepera got the win and improved to 5-1.
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