The Toronto Blue Jays will finally play a “home” game Tuesday when they take on the surprising Miami Marlins at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y.
The home park of the Buffalo Bisons, the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, finally will become Toronto’s base during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.
The Blue Jays had to find a temporary home after the Canadian government ruled against them playing in Toronto because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attempts to play at Pittsburgh and Baltimore also were declined.
Before the Blue Jays could play at the Buffalo venue, first opened in 1988, improvements were made to bring the park to major-league standards and to provide required adjustments because of the pandemic.
As a result, the Blue Jays have played their first 13 games on the road, winning five. They are in last place in the American League East.
The Marlins also have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. They have had to patch up their roster with the absence of 18 players because of positive COVID-19 tests.
They have won seven of their first 10 games despite losing two consecutive to the Mets at New York this past weekend. After an eight-day stoppage in play because of their coronavirus outbreak, the Marlins won the first five games of their return.
The Blue Jays just dropped two of three to the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, including a 5-3 loss Sunday after Mitch Moreland’s two-run game-ending homer.
Toronto and Miami both had a day off in the schedule Monday.
Toronto will start left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (1-1, 5.14 ERA) against Miami right-hander Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 0.00) on Tuesday in the opener of the two-game set.
“We haven’t really complained at all, given the circumstances,” said Toronto second baseman Cavan Biggio, who is one of 18 former Bisons on the Toronto roster. “It will be nice to go to Buffalo and set up shop and not have to carry around all your stuff on road trips.”
Ryu is coming off his first win with the Blue Jays when he pitched five scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves with eight strikeouts. He is 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins.
Hernandez has never faced the Blue Jays. He pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday, striking out five while allowing two hits and one walk against the Baltimore Orioles. He will be making his second start of the season.
The Blue Jays are batting .218 as a team and have scored an American League-worst 39 runs scored. The pitching has been solid with a 3.79 ERA, fifth in the AL.
“We lost on three walkoffs,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said after the game Sunday. “We’ve been in every game, against teams that won 90 games last year and we’ve been this close. We’ve been competing every day. Now the toughest thing as a team is that next jump.”
Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar has been a factor in the team’s surprising early success.
Aguilar is batting .306 with a .341 on-base percentage and a .694 slugging percentage. He has four home runs and eight RBIs, including a two-run home run Sunday off Mets ace Jacob deGrom.
“To me, he’s more well-rounded than given credit for,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He struggled last year. But the year before, you could see it. He could hit the ball the opposite way. He’s got a pretty good feel for sitting on breaking balls and what pitchers are trying to do. Then, you jump into his personality, which has just been awesome for us.”
Eddy Alvarez, the former U.S. Olympic silver medalist in speed skating, went 3-for-4 for the Marlins on Sunday. They were the first three hits of his major league career.
–Field Level Media