BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — It may not have been Toronto, but Buffalo felt much closer to home.
Though still playing the role of big league nomads, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays welcomed the opportunity to finally have a crowd pulling for the actual “home” team in celebrating their return to western New York.
A win at Sahlen Field on Tuesday night felt pretty sweet, too.
Guerrero keyed a career-best four-hit outing with his majors-leading 17th home run and the Blue Jays beat the Miami Marlins 5-1.
“The support of the fans here in Buffalo was great,” Guerrero said. “We really needed that. It felt like were playing home in Toronto. It was great, great for me, for the rest of my teammates.”
Manager Charlie Montoyo was wowed from the moment he caught a glimpse of a mostly blue-and-white wearing crowd of over 5,300 in the stands.
“To have fans pulling for us for the first time in two years at the ballpark, it was great,” Montoyo said. “And all the players felt it, too. It was pretty cool.”
Not having played a game in Toronto since closing the 2019 season with an 8-3 win over Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays have spent the past year and a half playing on the road because of Canadian health restrictions due to COVID-19.
Their so-called “home” games have either featured empty stands, as happened last year in Buffalo, or in front of indifferent fans, which was the case in opening the season 10-11 playing at their spring training site in Dunedin, Florida. The Blue Jays escaped the heat and humidity to return to their Triple-A site in Buffalo, where they went 17-9 last year and clinched their first playoff berth since 2016.
Robbie Ray (3-2) allowed one run on six hits through six innings, and the Blue Jays picked up where they left off a year ago in their adopted home.
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