The Blue Jays swept the Yankees in a doubleheader on Saturday at the Stadium. But at the same time the AL East leaders were buoyed by the return of Marcus Stroman, there was significant concern about the loss of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to a back and shoulder injury.
Tulowitzki was removed in the second inning of Game 1 after suffering what the Blue Jays termed upper-back bruises and a small crack in his left shoulder blade. No return date was set. He will be monitored for a week.
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Blue Jays manager John Gibbons spoke of Tulowitzki and Stroman at his postgame news conference.
"It's not good news . . . It's unfortunate,'' he said of his shortstop. "He was complaining about his ribs and everything hurting a little bit. Tough news.''
Gibbons smiled when speaking of Stroman and said, "I thought he was great. I thought he looked fantastic. He looked good. He ought to feel good. It's encouraging for the team.''
Stroman, the former Patchogue-Medford High School star, allowed only a three-run home run by Brett Gardner in a five-inning outing to earn the Game 2 victory as the Blue Jays won, 10-7. "I couldn't be more happy,'' Stroman said. "I was so antsy to get out there. When I got back out there I felt normal, I felt great. Body felt great, arm felt great. I left a pitch up to Gardner but for the most part kept the ball on the ground I thought pretty well.''
Stroman did not allow a hit until the fifth, when John Ryan Murphy and Brendan Ryan reached on infield singles. Gardner then hit the first of his pair of two-out, three-run homers.
Stroman did not return to the mound after a 33-minute rain delay. He gave up four hits, walked two, struck out two and was called for a balk. The second-year player, who was 11-6 in his rookie year, has beaten the Yankees three times in his career.
The Blue Jays have designs on more than winning the AL East title, but Stroman's return was a bonus. Tulowitzki, in the fifth season of a 10-year deal worth a reported $157.75 million, is pivotal in their plans. He was the principal player acquired from the Rockies for Jose Reyes days before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Since joining the Blue Jays, Tulowitzki is hitting .232 with five home runs and 17 RBIs.
His injury occurred when Didi Gregorius hit a pop fly to shallow centerfield. Tulowitzki was backpedaling when centerfielder Kevin Pillar collided with him. Tulowitzki made the catch, seemed to freeze, then collapsed to the ground, flipping the ball away after the final out of the inning had been officially signaled.
Said Pillar, "We were both going for the ball, it was kind of hitting that area where we're both comfortable catching the ball and, um, I guess he waved me off with his hand. I was calling it. We never saw each other.
"I couldn't feel any worse about it. It's probably the worst thing I ever experienced on a field . . . To injure someone else is a nightmare you never want to have happen on the field, especially a guy like him who's so important to this team and a play where it could easily [have] been avoided.''