Aside from Opening Day, Marcus Stroman’s turns on the mound have been under less than ideal conditions.
There was the start in the second half of a doubleheader at Lehigh Valley that didn’t begin until 10 p.m. He was the hard-luck loser in that game as a passed ball allowed the only run of the game to score as he threw a solid seven innings.
His latest start had been delayed two days with weather postponements and when the Buffalo Bisons right-hander took the mound at Coca-Cola Field Wednesday evening, the temperature was just 36 degrees.
The late start and the cold start didn’t bother Stroman, though.
He excelled in his outing, tossing 5∑ scoreless innings and picking up his first win as the Bisons defeated the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 8-2, in front of about 100 people.
“You never want to overthink it to the point where it’s going to affect you and your pitching,” Stroman said. “Whatever it is, whether it be 10:30 or cold like it was out there today, you just have to make the best out of every situation, go out there and battle regardless.”
Stroman was in top form Wednesday, striking out nine batters – five of them looking – and giving up no walks with just five hits. He finished throwing 67 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
He was working with catcher Erik Kratz, who was optioned to Buffalo on Sunday and the battery was working well together.
“We were vibing pretty well,” Stroman said. “We were on a really good roll, and whatever he was throwing down I was just right in sync with him. What I wanted to throw he was calling, so when you have that connection with the catcher, it makes the game fun.
“I felt like I was able to mix pretty well. I was throwing all five pitches and I felt like I was able to locate pretty good for the most part. Could have been a little better.”
Part of the key to Stroman’s success was being aggressive with his pitches, not trying to make too fine of a throw, and getting ahead in the count.
“He was down in the zone,” manager Gary Allenson said. “He got ahead. He didn’t walk anybody. He got a little bit of a high pitch count early but only because they were fouling balls off. He did an outstanding job.”
His teammates gave him plenty of run support, including a breakout third inning that saw the Herd score four runs, three of them on extra-base hits. Juan Francisco drove in three runs while going 2 for 5 at the plate.
Before the game, the Bisons placed infielder Andy LaRoche on the disabled list with a lower back strain retroactive to April 15. They activated outfielder Ricardo Nanita off the disabled list while infielder Kevin Nolan was promoted from Double-A New Hampshire.
In 10 games with the Fisher Cats, Nolan hit .219 with a home run and five runs batted in.
Nanita missed the first nine games of the season with a left shin contusion. In 38 games with Buffalo last season, he hit .261 with 11 doubles and two home runs while driving in 14 runs.
LaRoche hit .235 with a double and a pair of runs batted in in four games, primarily at third base.
It also appears the Bisons will be without Anthony Gose. The center fielder was not in the lineup Wednesday and reports from Toronto media say that Gose will be promoted to play the second half a doubleheader in Minnesota. The promotion is expected to be only for the one game. Starting Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus is nursing a minor hamstring injury.
Back in Buffalo, the Herd concludes its homestand with a doubleheader beginning at 12:05 p.m. today. Ricky Romero (0-0, 6.75 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Herd with Kyle Drabek (1-0, 5.40) starting Game Two. Scranton will counter with Brian Gordon (1-1, 3.60) followed by Chase Whitely (1-1, 3.60).