Stroman's complete game not enough

Stroman's complete game not enough

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are stuck in such a rut right now that even when Marcus Stroman comes through with one of the best starts of his career it's still not nearly enough.

Stroman limited the Brewers to a pair of runs in his first complete game since 2014. That should be more than enough to win almost any night on the mound, but with the way things are going for Toronto lately all it did was lead to a 2-0 loss.

Toronto's 25-year-old continued his strong start to the year by scattering seven hits and walking just one. He was in control for most of the night, but with the offense hanging him out to dry, a couple of minor mistakes was all it took for the Blue Jays to drop to 1-7.

"My goal is to take the ball every five days and go nine innings," said Stroman, who picked up his first complete game since Sept. 8, 2014, against the Cubs. "I don't want to come out. I want to finish the game every single time. That's the mindset. That's the mentality, and I think it's the mentality across the board for all of our starting pitchers."

Stroman picks off Villar

Stroman found success against the Brewers the way he normally does, by keeping the ball on the ground. He recorded 15 of his outs on the ground and another four through strikeouts, which left just eight in the air and three of those came over the final two innings.

Those numbers should hardly come as a surprise because Stroman led all Major League starters last season with a 60.1 ground ball percentage. He also recorded the most outs via the two-seam fastball, which is his go-to pitch. That was how he found success in his season opener against Tampa Bay, and it was how he found success against the Brewers.

The problem is that his strong outing did not stop Toronto's recent woes. The Blue Jays put three baserunners in scoring position against Milwaukee and came up short each time. Toronto has five quality starts through eight games, but the club also has seven losses with all but one of them coming by three runs or fewer. Things don't look good, but Stroman was adamant after his outing that it would all turn around quickly.

"I believe this is the best offense in baseball. I know it is," said Stroman, whose teammates are averaging 2.88 runs per game. "It's just a matter of we're struggling a bit right now. Once these guys get going, it's going to be scary. It's still early. First week of the season. There's zero reason to panic."

One of Stroman's lone mistakes came in the top of the sixth inning when he allowed a solo homer to Jonathan Villar. Outside of that and an RBI double by Keon Broxton, he was on the mark for most of the night.

"We had the right approach to him, I think," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "You have to hit it deep [in the zone] and hit it to right field, and get it out over the plate. It had late movement, and that's what caused a bunch of ground balls to short and third. He did a really nice job against our left-handed hitters. He was a challenge tonight. He has a lot of weapons."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.