TORONTO — Marcus Stroman was sharp over seven innings in the Toronto Blue Jays‘ win over the Houston Astros on Saturday and after the game he was blunt: he thinks he should have made the all-star team.
Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki belted three-run homers as the Blue Jays topped the American League-leading Astros 7-2 before a sellout crowd of 46,659 at the Rogers Centre, but Stroman after the game vented over the umpires and being left off the all-star roster.
Stroman, who has worked different deliveries into his arsenal, said the umpires were "all over the place" and had "zero idea" how to treat the pitches. And he acknowledged he used the perceived all-star snub as motivation.
"I think I should have been there 100 per cent," said Stroman, who improved to 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA. "I’m a pretty motivated guy from the beginning, so yeah, that was definitely in the back of my mind when I was out there today.
"That’s how I am and that’s how I’ll continue to be going forward. I expect a pretty big second half."
Mike Fiers (5-4) allowed three runs, four walks and five hits over six innings for the Astros (59-29), who’d won five straight series before heading north for this four-game set.
Houston opened the scoring in the third when Stroman walked Norichika Aoki before George Springer brought him in to score with a double.
When Josh Reddick followed with a single to put runners on the corners, the Astros seemed poised to break through. Carlos Correa then drilled a dangerous liner to left but Donaldson made a leaping catch before throwing out Reddick.
"Huge momentum shifter," Stroman said. "J.D. just showing off his athleticism. I felt like after that play, that just told me to get back in the zone."
Toronto (41-46) didn’t manage a hit until the fourth inning off Fiers. Things came undone for the 32-year-old in the fifth. He opened the inning by drilling Jose Bautista in the hand with a pitch before giving up a single to Russell Martin.
That brought up Donaldson, who immediately seemed agitated after Fiers nudged him off the plate with a high fastball near his chin. Four pitches later, Donaldson clubbed a changeup 432 feet into left-centre to give the Blue Jays a 3-1 lead. It was his ninth home run of the year.
"I don’t think the guy was trying to do it intentionally, but at the same token, it’s up around the head area, nobody appreciates that," Donaldson said later.
Stroman, meanwhile, dialled in after his uneasy third. He fanned five batters over the next three innings and didn’t again allow a runner to reach scoring position.
Bouncing back after leaving his last start against the Yankees prematurely with a blister on his throwing hand, Stroman ultimately gave up one run, six hits and three walks over seven innings.
"I thought he was dynamite today," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
Toronto added to its lead in the seventh with Fiers out of the game. Martin singled off right-hander Chris Devenski, Donaldson walked and Smoak muscled a double off the wall to make it 4-1.
One batter later, Tulowitzki smashed a fastball to left for his seventh homer of the year, putting Toronto ahead 7-1.
Relievers Danny Barnes and Joe Biagini, who allowed a solo homer to Marwin Gonzalez in the ninth, finished out the game to give Toronto four wins in five games.
NOTES: J.A. Happ pitches for Toronto in Sunday’s finale against Houston’s Brad Peacock. The Blue Jays will give away Aaron Sanchez bobbleheads.