Between a lack of command, defensive miscues and his team's inability to push across a run, Marcus Stroman was saddled with his first Triple-A loss his last time out.
Now, after two extra days of rest, pinpoint control and an abundance of offense, he finally has his first International League "W."
The Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect recorded nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday in the Buffalo Bisons' 8-2 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Coca-Cola Field.
"Good, man, good," Stroman said after his third International League start. "It feels good to get off the slide and give my team a chance to win. I had all of my pitches working tonight and me and [catcher Erik] Kratz were on the same page. Whatever he was throwing down, I was throwing."
A week ago, Stroman (1-1) allowed an unearned run -- a walk, an error and a passed ball produced the game's only tally -- on three hits over six innings in a complete-game defeat as the Bisons were unable to push any of their seven baserunners across the plate.
Stroman issued a career-high five walks in that outing, something he described as "uncharacteristic," but experienced no such problems Wednesday as he did not allow a free pass for the fifth time in 25 Minor League starts.
"That was definitely the part I was most happy with," he said. "I really tried to limit the base-on-balls and make guys hit it in play. Walks come back to hurt you, so that was definitely the highlight of my day."
MLB.com's No. 71 overall prospect struck out the side in the first inning around consecutive one-out singles, fanned two more batters in the second and another in a perfect third.
The Duke University product notched two more punchouts in the fourth after back-to-back hits to start the inning, then posted his ninth K to end the fifth. Stroman induced a popup off the bat of Zoilo Almonte to begin the sixth before turning a 5-0 lead over to the bullpen.
The outing lowered Stroman's ERA to 1.17 and extended his streak without allowing an earned run to 13 1/3 innings.
Selected 22nd overall in the 2012 Draft, the 22-year-old attributed his success to keeping opponents off-balance by mixing in all five pitches effectively. He finished one strikeout short of his fifth double-digit effort. His career high is 13, achieved twice and most recently on July 31 for Double-A New Hampshire.
Stroman was pleased with his fastball command and how it set up his changeup. He also said the slider and cutter were both working, along with his curveball, which he threw "more than normal."
"I was just mixing between pitches and getting in an early groove," the New York native said. "That's when I'm really at my best, when I'm mixing it up so they can't just sit on my fastball. I try to never repeat the same sequences of pitches to a hitter and I like being able to throw a 1-0 heater or a 1-0 changeup. It's about reading them and thinking about what they can't hit."
Stroman, who threw 67 of 94 pitches for strikes, was slated to pitch Monday, but that game was postponed due to rain. That meant he was pushed back to start the opener of Tuesday's doubleheader, but both games were canceled due to snow in Western New York.
"I definitely think it helps, but then again if you wait too long you get out of sync," said Stroman, who long-tossed at the stadium and threw on flat ground both days. "It's important to get your work in."
Dan Johnson went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and Juan Francisco collected two hits, three RBIs and a run scored for the Bisons.
RailRiders starter Chris Leroux (0-1) allowed five runs on seven hits and a walk over 2 1/3 innings.