The highly anticipated Toronto Blue Jays home opener at Sahlen Field in Buffalo finally took place Tuesday night without any fans in the seats. The Blue Jays started their Buffalo campaign on a winning note, as they defeated the Miami Marlins, 5-4, in 10 innings on a walk-off single from third baseman Travis Shaw.
With the Blue Jays making history playing their first game in Buffalo, the first score of the game went to the Marlins on a solo home run in the second inning by Brian Anderson. Anderson became the first MLB player to hit a home run in Buffalo since Tom Poorman of the Boston Beaneaters back on Oct. 3, 1885.
Both pitchers had strong command through the early portion of the game. Blue Jays ace Hyun-Jin Ryu surrendered only two hits in his six innings of work. Marlins starting pitcher Elieser Hernandez looked great as well, dominating the Jays through the first five innings, only giving up one hit.
Toronto finally broke through in the sixth inning off of Hernandez, as former Buffalo Bisons catcher Danny Jansen lead off the inning with a double, then Cavan Biggio followed it up with a double of his own. Eventually, both would score off of a three-run home run by Bo Bichette, who blasted a ball to the left field screen.
Biggio added to the Jays lead in the seventh inning with a two-out single into right field, scoring Randal Grichuk that gave them a 4-1 lead.
The game seemed to be in the books for the Blue Jays as they held a 4-1 lead in the ninth inning. Reliever Anthony Bass was one out away from closing out the game, but Bass gave up a two-out, three-run homerun to Francisco Cervelli to left field that tied the game at 4-4.
In the 10th inning, Toronto took advantage of a new rule this season, which allows a runner on second base to start each inning. Jansen led off the inning with a sacrifice bunt that advanced Anthony Alford over to third base, and then after two walks to Biggio and Bichette (intentionally), Shaw laced a ball to right field to score Alford for the winning run.
The two-game set with Miami concludes Wednesday night in Buffalo.
Miami (7-4) at Toronto (6-8)
First pitch: 6:37 p.m.
Pitching Matchup: Jordan Yamamoto (MIA) vs. Nate Pearson (TOR)
- Inside the ballpark, there were blue coverings on the lower level seats down the first and third baselines. The cardboard cutouts of fans were in the seats of the sections behind home plate. Some of the faces were notable people with baseball connections to either the Bisons' or Blue Jays' past or current history.
- Sahlen Field pumped in crowd noise during the game, which sounded like normal background sounds in a ballpark. The crowd would cheer louder during good moments for the Blue Jays. The music played in between the action sounded just like a normal Blue Jays game. The public address announcer also introduced each batter and announced pitching changes.
- Fans looking to catch a glimpse of the action did seem to have some success across the ramp to the I-190 for a little while. Approximately 30-40 people lined up in that location before Buffalo Police eventually dispersed the crowd during the fourth inning. Some fans returned later to watch more innings after police left. The parking ramp near the right field area had new coverings over the openings in the ramp where any viewing could’ve taken place. The area on the sidewalk to the left of the scoreboard also had new high fencing installed to detour anyone from trying to watch there.