Long Island’s Marcus Stroman got into some early trouble Saturday in Pittsburgh during his Mets debut, but battled through it and kept his team in the game.
It was something that Lou Petrucci, his former youth baseball coach, had seen the former Patchogue-Medford High School star do many times before.
“The first two innings were incredibly tough,” Petrucci said Saturday night from his seat at PNC Stadium in Pittsburgh. “He was a grinder to get through it with only two runs, but that’s him. He’s a gamer and a real professional.”
Petrucci has a long history with Stroman. He coached him on the Paveco Storm, an elite travel team that also featured current Mets lefthqander Steven Matz, and managed against him in high school as the coach of Matz’s Ward Melville team.
Stroman allowed a pair of runs in the first inning Saturday, but made an athletic play to throw a runner out at the plate before inducing an inning-ending pop-up to escape further damage. He finished his night after allowing three runs and seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. He got a no-decision as the Mets won, 7-5.
“The first inning was a combination of the excitement of pitching with a new team in front of a big Saturday night crowd on the road,” Petrucci said. “His athleticism helped him turn what looked like a surefire infield RBI single into a forceout. Those are the kind of things he’ll do here in New York.”
Mets manager Mickey Callaway called Stroman’s barehander, “the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make.”
“It gave me a little bit of momentum and confidence, too,” Stroman said. “I thought I was making some good pitches, and they were putting some good swings on balls. With my sinker, I feel like I’m a double play away at any point in any game. If I execute my pitches like I didn’t today, I’ll be able to go deeper like I didn’t today.”
Pittsburgh tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning on a Starling Marte RBI single. Later in the inning, Stroman — who did not get the benefit of a few borderline calls — walked Josh Osuna with the bases loaded.
In the second inning, Pittsburgh put runners on first and second with one out and after Marte lined out to rightfield, All-Star Josh Bell took three straight balls.
Stroman responded by throwing a pair of strikes and then getting Bell to fly out to center.
“I thought he made a statement when he fell behind Josh Bell 3-0 and came back,” Petrucci said. “That’s their best hitter in a situation where he could open it up for the Pirates, but it was typical Marcus not folding.”
Stroman’s father, Earl, told Newsday he was in Taiwan with the under-12 national team and that he plans to watch the game on a delay.
When he does, he will see his son retire the side in order in the third and fourth innings. He departed in the fifth inning after allowing a Bryan Reynolds double and a walk to Bell. Reynolds later scored when Kevin Newman was hit by a pitch from Luis Avilan with the bases loaded.
With Tim Healey