Marcus Stroman can’t seem to catch a break in New York.
For the second time in two starts at Yankee Stadium this year, the 26-year-old from Medford had his evening cut short by an injury.
Stroman allowed two runs, five hits and two walks and struck out three through five innings Monday night in the Blue Jays’ 6-3 loss to the Yankees. He did not return for the sixth inning — despite sitting at only 79 pitches and trailing 2-0 — thanks to a blister on his right middle finger.
“Just got a blister,” he said. “I’ve never had a blister ever in my life, nothing even remotely close to having a blister. It’s crazy. It’s extremely frustrating.”
In his May 3 start at Yankee Stadium, Stroman left after three innings with right arm tightness. He allowed five earned runs — and exited with a 6-5 lead — in Toronto’s 8-6 loss.
With one out in the fifth inning Monday night, Stroman allowed a double by Brett Gardner and grimaced after throwing a first-pitch ball to Aaron Judge. He convinced manager John Gibbons that he could stay in the game after trainer George Poulis bandaged the blister. He retired Judge on a groundout and struck out Gary Sanchez to end the inning.
“That was the best I’ve felt all year,” Stroman said. “I feel like I’ve honestly hit my stride right now. I feel the strongest I’ve been all year, so to come out at that point when I felt like I was rolling, it’s pretty frustrating. Gibby obviously leaned on the side of being more cautious, and it’s hard to argue with that.”
Stroman allowed two hits and both his walks and runs in the first inning. After retiring Gardner to lead off the game, Stroman allowed back-to-back singles by Judge and Sanchez. He then walked Didi Gregorius, hit Chase Headley in the right leg and walked Jacoby Ellsbury to force in two runs.
Stroman, who ranked second in the majors with a 60.5 percent ground ball rate and 16 double-play balls before Monday night, escaped further damage by inducing a 4-6-3 double play off Ronald Torreyes’ bat to end the inning. He also ended the fourth with a double play.
“Tonight was as good stuff as I’ve ever seen him have,” Gibbons said. “He was just missing a little bit early on, of course the hit batter. But as far as stuff goes, that’s as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
His starts at Yankee Stadium notwithstanding, Stroman has been a beacon of consistency for a starting rotation that ranked 11th in the American League with a 4.70 ERA through Sunday. He is 8-5 with a 3.42 ERA, 87 strikeouts and 26 walks in 105 1⁄3 innings and has lasted at least seven innings six times. The rest of the staff has nine such starts.
“Every time he steps onto the field, he expects to win, whatever game he’s pitching in,” said Luke Maile, who caught Stroman on Monday night. “That’s a trait that sounds pretty simple, but very few guys have that type of swagger and that quiet confidence about how to get people out.”