At 7:24 p.m. Tuesday night, Marcus Stroman hopped out of the third-base dugout at Yankee Stadium wearing light blue cleats and jogged toward the pitcher's mound. He stopped just in front of the bump and picked up a baseball that was left for him in the grass.
Stroman walked behind the mound and faced centerfield. He then whirled around and fired his first warm-up pitch.
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Now, Marcus Stroman was ready to take the mound.
Stroman, the former Patchogue-Medford High School star, allowed two runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Yankees in his fourth big-league start and first in New York.
Brett Gardner's short, two-run home run was the only blemish against Stroman, other than some control issues that led to a high pitch count (98) in in his shortest big-league start.
Stroman (3-2, 5.14), who had walked two in 18 previous innings as a starter, walked three. He allowed four hits, struck out two and was the losing pitcher in the Yankees' 3-1 win. "It was just one of those days. You're not going to be at your best every time out," he said. "They battled. I was in some deep counts."
Stroman, 23, had about 20 family members watching from the second deck behind the Blue Jays' dugout. He had dozens of more fans scattered throughout the Stadium. "I don't even know if I can put it into words," Stroman's mother, Adlin Auffant, said. "It's just a dream come true finally for him and just to see him accomplish what he set out to do. It's a little overwhelming."
Stroman's father, Earl, said: "He was up there in the pitch count. He's my son, so I love him no matter what. I'm sure he was nervous. I'm just happy to have seen him out there . . . How many fathers can say they had the chance to see their son pitch at Yankee Stadium?"
Taking the mound with a 1-0 lead thanks to Jose Reyes' first-pitch home run, Stroman came out firing. His first offering was a wide 95-mile-per-hour fastball to Gardner. He eventually retired Gardner on a grounder to second on the 12th pitch. Derek Jeter skied to right before Stroman struck out Jacoby Ellsbury on his signature down-and-in slider for a perfect first inning.
Stroman walked Carlos Beltran in the second but didn't give up his first hit until Kelly Johnson's one-out double in the third. Gardner then hit a two-run homer off the screen of the rightfield foul pole for a 2-1 lead.
Stroman lost control in a 36-pitch third inning. He walked one and went to three balls on three other batters. In the fourth, he issued a leadoff walk to Beltran. After a two-out single by Johnson, Toronto manager John Gibbons brought in Aaron Loup to face Gardner, who grounded out to end the inning.
Earl Stroman, a police detective in the Sixth Precinct in Selden, said the support he and his family received from Long Islanders has been overwhelming.
"Everyone wanted to go and everyone wanted to know about tickets," he said. " 'Can I get tickets? Can I get tickets?' I love the town because I've got to tell you, Patchogue is very supportive. He doesn't forget where he came from and the town really turns out for him. It's one of their own, so they stand behind him. Between Medford and Patchogue, they support him big-time."
Said the pitcher, "The experience and atmosphere was special. It was awesome just to be around that. Walking in from the bullpen and each section cheering for you and just to have a bunch of family and friends close to me who have been there along the way all here at the Stadium and have a bunch of people drive out for the game is pretty special."