TORONTO - Marcus Stroman had to summon all of the "hate, anger and emotion" he takes to the mound with him, as he said a day earlier, to get through two tough early innings Friday.
The 24-year-old from Medford was successful, settling in for five dominant innings after an erratic first two frames. But the Toronto bullpen failed to pick him up late, allowing an inherited runner to score the tying run in the eighth as the Rangers beat the Blue Jays, 6-4, in 14 innings to take a 2-0 lead in their Division Series.
Most popular baseball stories
Although victory eluded Stroman in his first career postseason start, he more than demonstrated, as he had in four huge September starts, that the moment was not too big for him.
"Even in that first inning, we knew he was going to settle into a groove," teammate Kevin Pillar said. "He was pretty much untouchable after that."
Stroman, who went 4-0 with a 1.76 ERA after making a surprising return to the rotation following an ACL tear March 10, said he felt neither too many nerves nor too much excitement.
"Not at all. I felt great," he said. "My stuff felt great. Just a couple of pitches, ground balls in the holes, choppers . . . I felt good."
Stroman threw 93 pitches, 38 of them in the first two innings. He was hurt in the first when Jose Bautista couldn't hang on to Delino DeShields' drive to the wall in right that went for a a double, a ground smash deflected off the glove of second baseman Ryan Goins and catcher Russell Martin committed an error on a rundown, all of which contributed to a 2-0 deficit.
After beginning the second by walking Rougned Odor, who later scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1, Stroman retired 14 straight and 18 of 20.
"Stro weathered the storm," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Once he got that first inning under his belt, he settled in. I thought Stro was outstanding today."
So did the fans, who gave him a roaring ovation as he departed with a 4-3 lead in the eighth.