After the Canadian government denied the Toronto Blue Jays permission to play at Rogers Centre -- their home ballpark -- due to coronavirus concerns, the club embarked on a search to find a new, suitable replacement for the 2020 abbreviated season. The Blue Jays engaged in discussions to play at Camden Yards in Baltimore and PNC Park in Pittsburgh as well as the club's spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla. But, ultimately the Blue Jays settled on playing their home games at their Triple-A Buffalo ballpark, Sahlen Field. The minor league ballpark needed an upgrade to its stadium lights, which was just one tweak needed before the stadium was cleared for MLB play.
The renovations forced the Blue Jays to play their first 14 games on the road, identifying as the home club for scheduled home games. But, on Tuesday, the club finally played its 2020 season 'home' opener at the 16,600-capacity stadium in upstate New York. Against the red-hot Miami Marlins, the Blue Jays won on a 10th-inning walk-off. Blue Jays' third baseman Travis Shaw knocked a single into right field off Marlins reliever Stephen Tarpley to give the Blue Jays their first 'home' victory. Take a look:
Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette -- who played 27 games at Sahlen Field as a Buffalo Bison last season -- also homered in the game. Bichette knocked a three-run homer in the sixth inning for the Blue Jays' first runs scored at Sahlen Field. At the time, the homer gave Toronto a 3-1 lead.
Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu recorded his second win of the season with a strong performance on the mound. Ryu allowed one run on two hits and two walks over six innings during Tuesday's extra-inning win. He had seven strikeouts and didn't factor in the decision.
"It feels like I'm in a totally different stadium," Pearson told ESPN. "Everything is neat, spacious. Everything is great. I know some of the guys that were skeptical about it were pumped up and ready to go."
"I was there with [Randal] Grichuk, [Lourdes] Gurriel and [Anthony] Alford taking BP [Monday], and we all marveled at the clubhouse size and the field conditions, even at all the changes in the colors," Guerrero told ESPN. "It looks nothing like the ballpark I played in a few years ago. Looks nothing like a minor league ballpark now. And it's just nice to have a home."
Tuesday's game was the first American League or National League game played in Buffalo since 1900. And, the game also marked the first time in 105 years that MLB games were played on the same night, at three different ballparks in New York. The last time that happened was in 1915 when the Yankees, Dodgers and Buffalo Blues all hosted at their home ballparks. Our own Mike Axisa explored the city of Buffalo's rich baseball history.
The Blue Jays will continue their homestand at Sahlen Field with the two-game series finale against the Marlins on Wednesday followed by a three-game series against the Rays beginning Friday.