Stroman Great in Home Opener But Yanks Shut Out. Toronto 3 NY 0

Marcus Stroman pitched 6 innings of shutout ball in his first game in Pinstripes — the 2024 home opener at Yankee Stadium. But the Yankee offense was shut out for 9 innings by Yusei Kikuchi and the Toronto bullpen, as the Blue Jays won 3-0.

The game was played on a cool, cloudy 50-degree Friday, right after a rare Earthquake hit the NYC area at 10:20 am — registering 4.8 on the Richter scale and centered in nearby Lebanon, NJ.

Lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson allowed a solo homer to pinch hitter Ernie Clement in the 7th inning, and Toronto picked up 2 insurance runs in the 9th off Yank relievers Dennis Santana and Nick Burdi — NY already feeling the pain of Jonathan Loaisiga being placed on the 60-day Injured List with a right flexor strain.

The Yanks mounted a 2-out rally in the 9th against old friend Chad Green, but Alex Verdugo “just missed” hitting a 3-run, game-tying homer to right — instead hitting a high fly ball to the warning track. Off the bat it looked like he got all of it.

“Didn’t eat all last night/this morning; was just very anxious, excited to get to the park,” said Marcus Stroman afterwards. “I’m very grateful and thankful for the home crowd. The energy when I walked out there, 35-40 minutes before the game, was incredible. And that’s something that I love. I feel like I’m able to kind of pick myself up in those moments. Just to feel the love from the crowd, that meant everything to me.”

NY falls to 6-2. Toronto improves to 4-4.

1. Stroman Great

Marcus Stroman grew up on Long Island and has seemingly pined to be a Yankee for a long time — and finally had his chance to wear the pinstripes, and pitch the home opener no less.

Stroman was great and fun to watch. A pitcher’s pitcher, he works the zone with a variety of pitches, uses his 92-MPH cutter to get ahead in counts, and his 92-MPH sinker to get a lot of ground ball outs and double plays. He pitches like he has a plan at all times, and a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan.

He paints the strike zone.

Stroman pitched 6 shutout innings.

He allowed a leadoff double to start the game by George Springer, who moved to 3rd with 1 out — but Stroman stranded him there with a strikeout of Bo Bichette and a lineout of Justin Turner.

Stroman picked up his fielders in the 4th — Turner got on due to a 1-out error by Jon Berti at 3rd base. Stroman allowed a 2-out double to Cavan Biggio to put 2nd and 3rd, and went 3-1 on good-hitting catcher Alejandro Kirk — but came back to go 3-2 and get Kirk on a pop up behind 1st base that Anthony Rizzo made a good catch on.

Other than that Stroman cruised against the hard-hitting Jays.

Even Yankee troll and Red Sox fan Jared Carrabis admitted, “I know the Jays lineup hasn’t done much to start the year, but Stro looks really good. He was such a sneaky good signing for the Yankees.”

On top of it all, Stroman wore a beautiful light-blue glove, the number zero, and had some very fashionable cleats on.

2. Kikuchi Good Too

But Yusei Kikuchi was good too — and he neutralized Stroman’s performance by pitching 5.1 shutout innings.

Kikuchi got Juan Soto to pop out to start the 6th and left for the Toronto bullpen.

3. Clement Clips Caleb for Blue Jay Lead

Ernie Clement pinch hit for Cavan Biggio in the bottom of the 7th, and hit a 92-MPH four-seam fastball from Caleb Ferguson for a 407-foot solo homer to left for a 1-0 Toronto lead.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jay middle relievers shut the Yankees out. Yimi Garcia got the last 2 outs of the 6th, Genesis Cabrera and Trevor Richards combined to pitch a shutout 7th, and Richards struck out the Yankee side 1-2-3 in the 8th.

4. Toronto Insurance Runs in 9th

Yankee righthander Dennis Santana got the last out of the 7th and pitched a shutout 8th, but got in trouble in the top of the 9th — allowing 1-out singles to Kirk and Daulton Varsho.

In came Nick Burdi — the 31-year old former Chicago Cub right hander. Burdi:

  • Threw a wild pitch to put runners on 2nd and 3rd,
  • walked Isiah Kiner-Falefa on 5 pitches to load the bases,
  • threw another wild pitch to score a run and make it 2-0 Jays,
  • walked George Springer on 5 pitches to load the bases again,
  • threw another wild pitch to score a run and make it 3-0 Jays, then finally
  • stuck out Vladimir Guerrero an 11-pitch at bat, and
  • got Bo Bichette to line out to 2nd base.

5. Verdugo ‘Just Misses’ Tying the Game in 9th

Down 3-0, NY faced old friend Chad Green in the 9th. Judge grounded out and Stanton flied out — but with 2 outs NY mounted a rally on consecutive singles by Anthony Rizzo and Anthony Volpe.

With the tying run at the plate, Alex Verdugo hit a high fly to the warning track in right — just missing it — for the old ballgame.

The Boxscore

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