(The Sports Xchange) - Marcus Stroman pitched seven strong innings and catcher Russell Martin hit a three-run homer in a crucial 4-0 win over the Yankees, which gave the Blue Jays a 3-1/2-game lead over the second-place New Yorkers in the American League East.
“That was really the perfect game for him to pitch in,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of Stroman’s performance. “It was a big game, a real big game and he came through.
“He thrives on that, that’s what he wants to do. I’ve never seen the kid rattled, he’s got a great arm, which is the key. The perfect guy.”
Stroman (3-0) allowed five hits, one walk and struck out five in his third start after returning from knee surgery in March.
“My slider was good today,” Stroman said. “I predominately threw sliders, I didn’t throw many curve balls. It’s a good pitch and I had pretty good success with it.”
Martin homered against right-hander Andrew Bailey to break open a tight game in the seventh. The Blue Jays had taken a 1-0 lead in the sixth on a single by center fielder Kevin Pillar.
“I was just trying to make contact,” Martin said.
“Really just trying to get a base hit, we had two guys in scoring position.
“I think they were trying to throw the fast ball in and got it out over the middle of the plate and I got a good swing on it.”
Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova (6-9) allowed four hits, two walks and one run in 5-2/3 innings. He struck out six.
Nova was making his first start since Sept. 12, when he allowed seven hits and six runs in 1-2/3 innings in a 10-7 loss to the Blue Jays in the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
“I thought he did a tremendous job for us,” Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to score him any runs.
“That’s the difference in the standings, what they’ve done to us.
“We’ve lost some tough ones. Tonight’s a tough loss because you get to the sixth inning, it’s 0-0. We weren’t able to put any runs across the board.”
Compiled by Greg Stutchbury