Stroman, Taillon sharp in Montreal duel

Stroman, Taillon sharp in Montreal duel

MONTREAL -- An old-fashioned pitchers' duel broke out on Friday night as fans in Montreal were treated to a pair of strong performances from Marcus Stroman and Jameson Taillon.

The first of two games to be played this weekend at Olympic Stadium ended in a 1-1 tie after nine innings. Toronto managed just five hits -- two from Josh Donaldson -- while Pittsburgh finished with nine, but none with a runner in scoring position.

Taillon pitched three innings in his final tuneup before his first regular-season start, scheduled for Wednesday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Taillon, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out two.

"Just a quick little tuneup, go into the season feeling good and encouraged," Taillon said. "This is different than Spring Training. This felt real."

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Taillon escaped a jam in the first inning, when Kevin Pillar's single and Troy Tulowitzki's walk put runners on first and second. The crowd roared for hometown favorite Russell Martin, but the Jays catcher tapped a harmless grounder back to the mound for the third out.

Pillar's RBI groundout

Stroman countered for the Blue Jays and tossed four scoreless innings. He allowed five hits but did not walk a batter while striking out a pair. Stroman retired the first seven batters he faced, then surrendered three consecutive singles in the third, but one baserunner (Josh Harrison) was thrown out by Martin and Starling Marte later flied out to end the inning without anybody coming around to score.

"It was more of a feel like the [World Baseball Classic]," Stroman said in reference to the 43,180 who attended the game. "I love pitching in front of huge crowds. I love that, I feel like I'm able to get up more for those games. I feel like I'm able to feed off that. The more people, the better. I hope there's 50,000 at the Rogers Centre for every single game I pitch this year."

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Toronto opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. Infielder Darwin Barney hit a leadoff triple to the corner in right field and came around to score in the next at-bat when Pillar hit a sharp grounder to shortstop. The score would remain that way until the fifth, when Adam Frazier hit a triple of his own to the right-field corner. Jordy Mercer scored, and because Ezequiel Carrera initially dropped the ball, Frazier rounded third but was thrown out at the plate.

Frazier's RBI triple

"Not a whole lot of offense," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They pitched really well, too. But everybody feels good. We'll play one more tomorrow and see what happens."

Pirates: Right-hander Chad Kuhl, set to start Thursday's opening-series finale at Fenway Park, will take the mound as the Pirates wrap up their spring schedule with a 1:07 p.m. ET exhibition against the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium. Tyler Glasnow, named the fifth starter in Pittsburgh's rotation, is also scheduled to pitch.

Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano will get an opportunity to face his former team when the two-game exhibition series continues in Montreal. Liriano has been borderline dominant this spring with 25 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings, and perhaps even more impressive is that he has issued just four walks. This will be Liriano's final start of the spring as he gets ready to open the year as Toronto's No. 4 starter. Most of Toronto's regulars are expected to receive at least a couple of at-bats.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.