As Marcus Stroman jogged out to the bullpen to begin warming up, a full house of Toronto Blue Jays fans let him know how happy they are to have him back.
"Right when I jogged out there, the whole crowd started cheering," Stroman said. "I had the chills from that point on, throughout the whole game."
Stroman pitched seven innings to win his first home start in more than a year, Justin Smoak had two RBIs and Toronto beat the Boston Red Sox 6-1 on Friday night.
The AL East-leading Blue Jays moved 4 1-2 games ahead of the second-place Yankees, who lost 5-1 to the Mets at Citi Field. It’s Toronto’s biggest lead of the season.
Stroman (2-0), who returned last Saturday after tearing knee ligaments in spring training, started at Rogers Centre for the first time since Sept. 8, 2014, when he tossed a three-hitter against the Chicago Cubs.
"What an outing," manager John Gibbons said of Stroman’s latest gem. "For a guy who had no spring training, coming off the big injury that everyone knows about, it’s really pretty remarkable."
The right-hander, who beat the New York Yankees in his season debut last week, allowed one run and six hits. He is 8-2 with a 2.53 ERA in 16 career home games, including 12 starts.
"I love pitching here," Stroman said. "I feel great when I’m out there. When the roof is open it’s my favorite place to be. I don’t want to be anywhere else. It’s special. I feel like I just thrive off everyone’s energy."
Stroman is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in four career starts against Boston.
"He was just attacking the zone, especial early in the count," Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw said. "When guys like that can control their two-seamer to both sides of the plate, it can be difficult."
Blue Jays DH Edwin Encarnacion went 0 for 4, ending a club record of reaching base safely in 44 consecutive games.
Toronto opened the scoring in the third when Kevin Pillar hit a leadoff double, advanced on Cliff Pennington’s sacrifice and scored on Ben Revere’s groundout.
The Blue Jays made it 4-0 in the fourth. Jose Bautista walked, Encarnacion reached on a fielding error by third baseman Brock Holt and Smoak followed with a two-run double. One out later, Ryan Goins hit an RBI triple.
Boston’s lone run off Stroman came in the fifth. Rusney Castillo reached on a fielder’s choice, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on Blake Swihart’s single before scoring on an infield single by Josh Rutledge.
Toronto extended its lead to 6-1 in the sixth, which began with singles by Smoak, Russell Martin and Goins. After one out, Martin scored on a wild pitch by Rick Porcello (8-13) and Pennington hit a sacrifice fly.
Porcello, who came in with a 7.36 ERA in five games at Rogers Centre, allowed six runs, five earned, and eight hits in six innings.
"All things considered, I don’t think he threw the ball as bad as his numbers indicated," Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said.
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