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Marcus Stroman’s arm proves valuable, as Blue Jays beat Red Sox

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman works against the Boston Red Sox during seventh inning AL baseball action in Toronto on Thursday, July 24, 2014.

Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Count this, from Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman, amongst the little fibs pros tell to keep all the rest of us guessing:

"I honestly didn't think about it until I sat down after the sixth [inning] and looked up and saw '0'. And I thought, 'Wow, that's pretty crazy.'"

"It" was a no-hitter. It's a little difficult to believe he hadn't noticed until that point, but one does love the mystery of the game.

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During an afternoon spent pulling the suddenly flailing Boston Red Sox fore and aft, Stroman carried it into the seventh inning. Meanwhile, the Jays were taking BP from Boston pitchers.

An 8-0 win puts the Jays on three victories in a row as they head into a crucial (and, historically, dangerous) three-city, nine-game road swing.

Through six innings, Stroman did not allow a ball to be hit into the outfield. Shane Victorino undid it in the seventh with a bloop single on a hanging curve. In this instance, "spoiled" would be the wrong choice of words.

At that point, Stroman was already on 94 pitches. A full game would've taken him north of 120 or 130 – well past the accepted red line for a still-maturing arm.

"It was getting a little hairy there," manager John Gibbons said afterward. "If he just keeps going … you've got a young kid, you're trying to win a division. Do you just keep throwing him out there, over and over? I don't know if 'relieved' is the word [that Victorino broke it up], but it didn't hurt."

Would you have considered taking him out?

"You'll never know," Gibbons said.

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I'm pretty sure we do.

How tough would it have been to get you out of there?

"Hard," Stroman said. "I think they would've let me go."

I'm pretty sure he's wrong.

That arm is too valuable to risk for career milestones. Not yet. Increasingly, that arm is baseball in Toronto.

In recent days, and mostly just for fun, a great many prospective trades have been mooted involving Stroman and the Jays' newest Tiger Beat crush, Aaron Sanchez. That could be a quick fix for a franchise focused a playoff push.

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It would also be organizational harakiri.

Whatever this year turns out to be – and the Jays are still a decent 10-game stretch away from the top of the division – it's already clear that Stroman and Sanchez are this team's long-term future. In the best of all worlds, they are faces of the franchise in five years.

Someone put that idea to Stroman yesterday.

"I got chills when you said that," he whispered.

If you were watching him throw on Thursday, you may have had the same experience. One hopes Toronto fans will get to have it for many years to come.

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