In between innings, the Coca-Cola Field video board showed a short clip of the upcoming movie Million Dollar Arm. It was an appropriate narrative of Buffalo Bisons pitcher Marcus Stroman on Tuesday.
On the fourth anniversary of R.A. Dickey’s one-hit masterpiece, Stroman tormented the Louisville Bats with an equally memorable outing in a six-inning, no-hit gem with 10 strikeouts. Stroman’s brilliance led the Bisons to a 4-1 victory, the third win in the four-game series against the Bats.
Like Dickey, who on April 29, 2010 threw a one-hitter for the Herd and retired twenty-seven in a row, Stroman was nearly flawless. But earlier in the day, Stroman didn’t know if he would pitch at all.
“Every time I wake up and it’s my time to play, I’m overly excited because obviously I’m the starting pitcher and I get to play once every five days,” said Stroman, the former Duke pitcher. “In my college days I was playing every day so every time my day comes I get excited.”
But Stroman woke up – like the rest of Western New York – to heavy rains which were still coming down hard when he arrived at stadium around 2 p.m.
“I looked at the radar and it said maybe it would clear up and when I got here to the field it was still pouring,” he said. “It was something you just have to deal with and try and make the best out of it and luckily it ended up being a pretty nice night.”
Indeed it was. Placed on a pitch count of 80, Stroman launched 56 for strikes, staying ahead in the count with a lively fastball and splitter that led to six ground ball outs. Stroman, who turns 23 on Thursday, percolated quickly.
He fanned Hernan Iribarren and Skip Schumaker to start the game, walked Ruben Gotay, then forced Chris Nelson to ground to third. The 21-pitch first inning was Stroman’s longest. He didn’t throw more than 13 pitches an inning after that.
“It was a 20-pitch inning and the next thing you know he’s going out there and finishing in six,” Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. “If he could have gone as far as one more inning or two … Shoot in the big leagues he might be out there all night. It would be interesting to find out.”
He struck out Felix Perez to start the second inning, sat down Thomas Neal with a slider then got Mike Wilson to pop out to second. Stroman whistled a fastball by Corky Miller in the third then set down the next four before firing a cut fastball by Nelson to end the fourth inning.
In the fifth, Stroman struck out Perez with a slider, Neal with a breaking ball and Wilson with a fastball. Miller and Kristopher Negron grounded out, then Stroman’s outing was complete when he struck out Iribarren to end the sixth.
There are signs that Stroman, considered the most Major League-ready prospect available in the 2012 Draft, will be called up to Toronto soon. He last pitched on April 21 and was informed by pitching coach Randy St. Claire that he wouldn’t start again until Tuesday with an 80-pitch limit while throwing from the bullpen in between.
Toronto’s Dustin McGowan, who started Tuesday’s game in Kansas City, has struggled and there are rumors Stroman could be added to the Blue Jays rotation as soon as this weekend.
Also on Tuesday, the parent Toronto Blue Jays picked up the contract of infielder Chris Getz from the Bisons and released pitcher Mickey Storey. Getz has played in 18 games with the Herd this season and leads the club with a .309 average. Getz had been on a tear of late with a six-game hit streak (.455) as well as hits in 11 of his last 12 games (.372).
Storey made four appearances for the Herd this year, with a 10.80 ERA.