TORONTO -- It's been two starts, two wins for Marcus Stroman, who was supposed to be spending this season rehabbing from knee surgery, not trying to help the Blue Jays win their first AL East title since 1993.
And Wednesday night, Stroman will attempt to make it three straight, including two in a row over the Yankees, the team he beat in his Sept. 12 season debut at soggy Yankee Stadium. That may have been a homecoming of sorts for the former Patchogue-Medford star, but this time, Stroman will truly be in his element at the rejuvenated Rogers Centre, which has been rocking for this series.
"That's what I wanted to come back for," he said.
Stroman, 24, enjoyed himself last Friday in his return to Rogers Centre, holding the Red Sox to one run over seven innings in the Jays' 6-1 victory. Despite the extensive layoff from the March ACL tear that was expected to end his season before it began, Stroman (3.00 ERA) quickly has returned to form, using his entire six-pitch repertoire.
His biggest challenge Wednesday night might be channeling the energy in the sold-out dome, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons sees that as more of an advantage for Stroman.
"He loves that," Gibbons said. "That's kind of what he thrives on. He likes the limelight."
Nova's chance to redeem
Ivan Nova, banished to the bullpen from the rotation last week, is slated to start Wednesday night as Masahiro Tanaka rests a Grade 1 hamstring strain.
"This is a really good opportunity for me right now to show I belong in this rotation," Nova said.
It has been mostly a struggle for the 28-year-old since returning in late June from Tommy John surgery, going 6-8 with a 5.11 ERA in 14 starts. Nova, 2-5 with a 7.46 ERA in his previous seven starts, said he was not angry with the Yankees' decision.
"I wasn't doing my job, so it was kind of like I took myself out of the rotation," Nova said. "Now that I have the opportunity to pitch again, I'm looking forward to having a good game and finishing the season strong. If I do a good job tomorrow, I think I'm earning another start."