The Toronto Blue Jays will return home to the Rogers Centre for the first time in 670 days Friday night when they open a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
Both teams are coming off wins on Thursday. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in three runs with his 33rd home run of the season asthe Blue Jays defeated the host Boston Red Sox 13-1 to gain a split of a four-game series. The Royals beat the visiting Chicago White Sox 5-0 to take the series 3-1.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Blue Jays last played in Toronto on Sept. 29, 2019, when they finished the season with an 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Last season, the Blue Jays played all their home games in Buffalo at the home field of the Bisons, their Triple-A affiliate. They were 17-9 there during the shortened season.
This season, they opened their home schedule at their spring training site in Dunedin, Fla., where they were 10-11, before moving to Buffalo, where they were 12-11.
"I really think the biggest difference maker of it all is the energy that we'll get from having local fans and having that full support from our community and that city and that country," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said recently. "We by no means feel that we've had it bad. I (felt) incredibly supported in Buffalo and felt great about the support that we had in Dunedin, but we haven't had Toronto and we haven't had Canada to locally and in the flesh support us. That is an incredible boost of energy for our players."
"I think I'm just looking forward to seeing the city itself," said Blue Jays reliever Adam Cimber, obtained recently in a trade with the Miami Marlins. "Obviously, I've seen the visitors' side, and the hotel that we stayed at last time, but I haven't really gone out and done a whole lot in the city itself."
Left-hander Daniel Lynch (1-2, 7.88 ERA) will start for Kansas City Friday. Right-hander Ross Stripling (3-6, 4.84) will start for Toronto.
Lynch will make his fifth career start and first against the Blue Jays. Stripling has faced the Royals once in his career, July 8, 2017, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He threw one scoreless inning as a reliever.
This will be the first home game in Toronto for many Blue Jays, including Stripling. His only start at the Rogers Centre was a six-inning, one-run performance against the Blue Jays in 2016.
Both teams made trades on Thursday. Toronto acquired left-handed reliever Brad Hand from the Washington Nationals for catcher Riley Adams. Kansas City sent left-hander Danny Duffy and cash considerations to the Dodgers for a player to be named.
The Royals have three consecutive series wins for the first time since Aug. 30-Sept. 12, 2019, when they won four straight. In doing so, the Royals have won eight of their past nine games.
"All four games (against Chicago), we were right there in it and fighting," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "I believe this about this team -- these guys need to realize how good we can be when we put things together. And we've talked about it since the opener. Let's put all the pieces together, and let's see what it looks like when things are clicking."
--Field Level Media