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DET@TOR: Stroman allows two runs over nine frames

Friday's series opener against the Rays will be Marcus Stroman's opportunity to demonstrate how well he can bounce back from a tough outing.

The Blue Jays' right-hander will take the mound at Rogers Centre following the worst start of his young career, when he gave up five runs on five hits in just two-thirds of an inning against the White Sox last week. That start came on the heels of a nine-inning gem the 23-year-old threw against the Tigers.

Pitching on two extra days' rest, Stroman has something to prove.

"There's a lot of emotion that goes into this game, you want to do everything in your power to put your team in a position to win, and I did everything but that," Stroman said following his last outing.

He'll be up against Drew Smyly, who impressed the Rays for a second straight outing in his last start vs. the Yankees on Saturday, allowing just a pair of runs in a no-decision. Smyly, who was acquired from the Tigers for David Price at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts since joining the Rays.

It's a nice turnaround for the 25-year-old, who put up a 4.85 ERA in his last five starts with Detroit. He's made some adjustments in his short time with Tampa Bay, mostly focused on pitching sequences.

"Approach-wise they gave me some suggestions and I think it's definitely helped," Smyly said. "It's something they see that the Tigers never would have probably told me in their scouting department. It's definitely good to hear that and try and put it into the game."

Blue Jays: Morrow could return for 'pen stint
Right-hander Brandon Morrow has been throwing side sessions off a mound and could re-join the Blue Jays at some point in September.

Morrow has been out since May 2 because of a torn tendon sheath in his right index finger. He won't have enough time to make it back as a starter, but the righty could find a role in the bullpen. There is still no defined timetable for Morrow's return, but the Blue Jays should have a better idea of his progress before the end of August.

"He has been throwing some sides without his finger guard and he's feeling better," manager John Gibbons said. "He's cutting it loose better. It's not full-go, but it's progress."

Rays: Facing the AL East
On Friday night, the Rays begin a stretch of 26 consecutive games against American League East competition through Sept. 17 (nine vs. the Blue Jays, seven vs. the Orioles, six vs. the Yankees, and four vs. Boston). This will be the longest stretch of divisional play of any season in club history. The Rays are 10-4 against AL East opponents since June 28.

Worth noting
• Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista has reached base safely in 27 straight games, and 111 of his 120 starts this season.

• The Rays have 14 players on their active roster (56 percent) who were acquired via trades and 23 players on the 40-man roster (58 percent) who were acquired via trades.

• Victor Martinez's five RBIs in the Tigers' 6-0 win on Wednesday night made him the first visiting player with five RBIs in a game at Tropicana Field since Mark Teixeira of the Yankees in "Game 162."

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