Good signs for Stroman despite loss

Blue Jays righty allows four runs over five innings in series finale

Good signs for Stroman despite loss

CHICAGO -- Marcus Stroman was better than his previous start, but better wasn't good enough to best White Sox ace Chris Sale in the series finale at U.S. Cellular Field.

After allowing seven runs to the Orioles in just 3 2/3 innings on June 19, Stroman yielded four runs in five innings against Chicago in the Blue Jays' 5-2 loss on Sunday. He struck out four, but also allowed seven hits, walked four and uncorked a wild pitch.

Stroman said adjustments made between starts were partially to blame for his control issues, but he felt like they helped overall. His slider had more bite and his fastball had more jump.

"I felt like I kept the ball on the ground, for the most part, besides maybe one or two pitches," said Stroman, who toted a 7.59 ERA into the game in his seven prior outings. "It felt like when they were beating me, it was on the ground in holes. I got a lot of groundouts, I was down in the zone [and] my velocity felt better. I'll just take the positive out of this and work. I definitely felt a lot better than last Saturday [in Baltimore]."

Stroman had no trouble in the first, retiring the side in order, but he began to unravel a bit in the next two frames. He needed help to get out of the second unscathed, after allowing two singles to start the inning, and then allowed two runs in the third on two hits, a walk, an error and a successful squeeze bunt that scored Tyler Saladino with the game's first run.

Adam Eaton laid down the bunt, one pitch after rolling his first attempt foul, but Stroman's throw home was off target.

Eaton's squeeze bunt

"I felt like I was right on it and ready to go," Stroman said. "I just didn't execute when it came to fielding the ball and getting it to [Russell Martin] where he needed it to be. I completely took him away and didn't give him a chance to tag [Saladino]."

Two more walks plus two more hits, including a solo home run by rookie Tim Anderson, tacked two more runs onto Stroman's line in the fifth. It could've been more, but Stroman ended his day with strikeouts of Alex Avila and Brett Lawrie to mitigate the damage.

"I thought his fastball had a little more life to it," manager John Gibbons said. "That's what it looked like to me. Early on, he was getting more ground balls. That's a good sign from him. That's what he does. He got some big strikeouts to finish his five innings. He's probably going to tell you it's not what he wanted, but he drew a tough assignment today too [matched against Sale]. He almost had to be perfect."

Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.