ANAHEIM, Calif. — Although Marcus Stroman had no idea why he was called for an illegal quick-pitch, he refused to allow the unusual umpiring decision to stop him from carrying the Toronto Blue Jays to another win in their climb out of a huge early-season hole.
He pitched a seven-hitter and Devon Travis hit a go-ahead, two-run homer during a four-run eighth inning in the Blue Jays' 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Stroman (2-2) was angered when home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus awarded first base to Kole Calhoun in the third inning for throwing a 3-1 pitch before Calhoun was deemed to be ready. Toronto manager John Gibbons was ejected for arguing the call, and the Angels scored on back-to-back singles immediately afterward.
Stroman escaped the jam, took a few deep breaths and didn't allow a baserunner in the next five innings, retiring 17 consecutive Halos. When the Blue Jays' bats finally came alive in the eighth, Stroman was on his way to his third career complete game — and his second in 12 days.
"That's why I work as hard as I do," Stroman said. "I think it's good for our guys. I think it gives our bullpen a day off, lets guys rejuvenate, get healthy down there, and I think it gives our offence , our guys, a little bit more motivation going deep. That's my goal every time."
Albert Pujols delivered a run-scoring single for the Angels, who have lost 10 of 12 with an injury-plagued pitching staff.
Kevin Pillar added a solo shot moments after Travis' slump-busting homer for the Blue Jays (5-13), who are off to the worst start in franchise history even with three wins in five games.
"We started out slow and came to life late," Gibbons said. "I had a good view in here (in the clubhouse)."
Stroman still isn't sure exactly what he did wrong in De Jesus' eyes, since he didn't get an explanation — and he used the same abbreviated delivery later in the game without getting called.
"There was no reason for it," Stroman said. "I didn't really get an explanation as to why I couldn't or shouldn't do it, so that was the only thing wrong. I was a little bit upset."
Gibbons said he also wasn't sure why De Jesus made the ruling, which "shocked me a little bit."
Stroman said catcher Russell Martin calmed him down. He also plans to use that short delivery in the future.
"I don't think it's going to be something that I'm worried about going forward," Stroman said.
Stroman survived a rocky ninth by inducing a game-ending double play, but Toronto's exuberant celebration drew the Angels' ire. Pujols stepped onto the field, and several Angels glared from the dugout during the Jays' celebration.
"I'm going to talk to Pujols," Stroman said. "Lot of respect for that guy. Talked to him in the past. I understand things could have got skewed a bit, but I love Pujols."
With eight Angels pitchers on the DL, Daniel Wright pitched five innings of scoreless three-hit ball in his first start of the season. Their third reliever, Deolis Guerra (0-1), gave up the go-ahead homer by Travis, who was off to a 6-for-57 start to the season.
Pujols' 1,832nd career RBI put him one behind Dave Winfield for 17th place in baseball history. Pujols added his 605th career double in the ninth, breaking his tie with Paul Waner and pulling even with Paul Molitor for 12th place.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez is tested his blistered finger by throwing in the outfield. He plans to throw off a mound soon.
Angels: 1B Luis Valbuena is headed to San Bernardino for a weeklong rehabilitation assignment. The veteran strained his hamstring in March.
Blue Jays: Francisco Liriano (1-1, 4.05 ERA) takes the mound in the four-game series finale.
Angels: Jesse Chavez (1-3, 5.00 ERA) had his start pushed back after he was needed in relief during the 13-inning series opener Friday. He took the loss after giving up Bautista's three-run homer.
Greg Beacham, The Associated Press