Blue Jays-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

Marcus Stroman is certainly having fun since becoming a starter for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The rookie right-hander tries to win his fourth straight start and help the visiting Blue Jays avoid a third straight defeat to the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Since being inserted into the Toronto rotation May 31, Stroman (7-2, 3.03 ERA) is 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA in 11 starts. He didn't allow a run in three of his five outings in July, and the only one he's surrendered over 21 innings in his last three came in a 4-2 victory at Boston on Tuesday.

"It's been a ride," Stroman told MLB's official website. "I just look forward to going out every fifth day and doing everything I can to put my team in a position to win."

With a season-high eight strikeouts Tuesday, Stroman has fanned 63 and walked 16 as a starter. Opponents are hitting .209 against Stroman during his time in the rotation, and he's allowed only one home run over his last six outings.

"He's on some kind of roll right now," manager John Gibbons said. "The kid's good. He believes in himself. He's got all the confidence in the world and he's got the stuff for it, too."

Stroman will make his first appearance versus Houston (46-65), which has outscored Toronto 11-3 to win two straight after falling 6-5 in the series opener.

The Blue Jays (60-52) averaged 6.2 runs and 10.9 runs while winning 11 of 13 prior to the last two contests. They had won every series they'd played since the All-Star break.

Chris Carter and Jason Castro each went 3 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs in Saturday's 8-2 win for the Astros, who have hit 15 home runs in the last eight games.

Houston, which is closing a 10-game homestand, has averaged 5.8 runs while going 4-2 against Oakland and Toronto this week following a five-game skid.

Castro is batting .333 in his last nine games, including three homers and seven RBIs in the past seven.

Teammate Scott Feldman (4-8, 4.39) went 0-3 with a 5.58 ERA in five July starts but is coming off his best performance since April. He allowed a run and five hits over seven innings against Oakland on Tuesday and left with a three-run lead, but Houston gave up six in the ninth to lose 7-4.

"I was happy that I threw the ball better," said Feldman, who is 1-6 in his last 11 starts.

The right-hander had been 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA against the Blue Jays in 12 games, including seven starts, before winning his last matchup with them. He gave up three runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 7-4 win last season while with Baltimore.

Jose Reyes is 4 for 7 against Feldman, but he's 1 for 8 in the last two games after hitting .340 in his previous 13.

Jose Bautista is 3 for 15 in the last four games, but 5 for 13 with two doubles and a homer versus Feldman.

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