Stro Show shines in Blue Jays' win against A's

Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 19, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND — The Stro Show stole the show Friday night with one of those masterful performances befitting of a staff ace.

And at long last, Marcus Stroman got some much-needed run support.

From the time he took to the mound, Stroman was in complete control as the Blue Jays took charge of the evening in their half of the second inning by stringing together hits and runs.

All told, it was an all-around team effort, great pitching, solid defence and good hitting as the Jays helped Stroman earn his first win of the season in the first game of this three-game series with the host A’s.

In the end, Toronto came out on top, 5-1.

Stroman pitched eight innings and came on for the ninth to face ex-Jay Kendrys Morales.

Morales made solid contact to centre on a tailing ball Teoscar Hernandez probably should have caught.

But his angle was off, coming in when he should have backed up.

Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays jumps as he leaves the field following the in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 19, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

With Morales on second, Ken Giles was summoned from the ‘pen.

Giles earned the save by registering three outs on the three batters he faced.

In his four previous starts, Stroman wasn’t the beneficiary of much offence.

In fact, run support was virtually non-existent for the right-hander, who started opening day back in Toronto.

Following a routine three-up, three-down inning to begin the game, the Jays exploded in the top half of the second, providing Stroman, who had yielded a one-out double to Matt Chapman in the home half of the first, with four runs.

The Jays produced the grand total of six runs in Stroman’s time on the mound leading up to Friday night.

Justin Smoak, who has been quite effective in getting on base, laced a pitch deep into right field that bounced off the wall, setting the stage for Toronto’s four-run second.

Toronto Blue Jays’ Socrates Brito swings for an RBI-single off Oakland Athletics’ Aaron Brooks in the second inning of a baseball game Friday, April 19, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Even Socrates Brito got into the act, the light-hitting Brito stroking a single, which turned out to be his first of the season following an 0-for-21 beginning.

The Jays would bat around the order to take a 4-1 lead.

Stroman got added run support in the fifth when Brandon Drury was all over a 1-1 pitch to deposit the offering from starter Aaron Brooks just inside the foul pole in left field for a solo shot.

After five innings, the Jays were well deserving of their 5-1 lead, the team playing well defensively behind Stroman, who kept the A’s at bay.

Stroman entered the night having lost five straight games over his last nine starts.

Following the win, manager Charlie Montoyo felt Stroman had “no-hit stuff.”

Stroman, ever confident in his ability, feels his stuff against the A’s was no different than any other outing.

“I feel good,” said Stroman, who lowered his ERA to 1.76 in pitching eight innings for the first time since Aug. 11, 2017. “I know where I’m at and I know the pitcher I can be in this game. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it at this point.”

Stroman struck out home run king Kris Davis three times, including a called strike.

Montoyo did admit how Fernandez misplayed the Morales hit to lead off the ninth.

The manager also admitted how Billy McKinney shouldn’t have attempted to turn a double into a triple in getting tagged out to begin an inning, one of those unwritten no-nos in baseball.

fzicarelli@postmedia.com

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