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Hard-Hitting Baseball Analysis

Stro Show: Marcus Stroman dominates in start for Team USA

While many big-name pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw eschewed the World Baseball Classic in order to prepare for the 2017 season, 5’8″ Toronto Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman stood up tall for the United States, hurling 4.2 scoreless innings Saturday against a vaunted Dominican Republic lineup.

Marcus Stroman WBC

Marcus Stroman was in top form Saturday night for Team USA.

Stroman appeared in mid-season form, featuring an array of fastballs — two-seamers, four-seamers, and cutters — along with a changeup and curveball that baffled the Dominican hitters. In addition, Stroman made sure to bring his trademark swagger and energy to the field by adorning multiple flashy necklaces and strutting around the mound with aplomb.

While American fans have yet to catch on to the fever of the WBC, Dominican fans were boisterous all game long, blowing into vuvuzelas and raucously cheering all game long. Despite the game being played in March, it felt like a playoff game. And Stroman, as he has his entire career, did not back down under the pressure.

Stroman surrendered just three hits all night — all singles, with one failing to leave the infield — while striking out four batters and walking none.

Marcus Stroman certainly shined on Saturday night for Team USA.

“One through nine, it’s an All-Star lineup, essentially,” Stroman said. “You really have to be on your game. But I love games like this. I feel like I’m able to really get up and be in the moment, and the bigger the moment is, the bigger my stuff plays. The fact that we can have a playoff atmosphere like this in March is pretty special. It was a blast.”

Unfortunately for Stroman and Team USA, the bullpen was unable to preserve a five-run lead. Tanner Roark struggled mightily in 1.1 innings, allowing three runs, including a mammoth home run to Manny Machado that got the ball rolling for the Dominican Republic.

Still, the US appeared in good hands in the 8th with relief ace Andrew Miller on the bump, but it would prove not to be Miller’s day. Shockingly, Miller surrendered a go-ahead three-run home run to Nelson Cruz and an opposite field home run to Starling Marte, and the USA was unable to rally against Dominican closer Jeurys Familia in the 9th inning.

The US was able to bounce back the following day, routing Team Canada to advance to the second round of competition. Nobody knows how far Team USA will advance in the tournament, but one thing seems pretty certain: they sure wouldn’t mind having Marcus Stroman start again.

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Updated: March 20, 2017 — 7:12 pm

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