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Game 106: Blue Jays at Twins

An old friend tries to be mean to our new friends’ team.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game - World Team v United States
Quick — name the other guy? (Hint: we used to make “South Park” jokes related to his name.)
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Time: 7:10 Central

Weather: Still hot, still bone dry, first pitch 88°

Opponent’s SB site: Bluebird Banter

TV: BSN. Radio: How in space, someone can hear you scream

Appropriately, trade acquisition Tyler Mahle’s first Twins appearance will be against last year’s trade dequisition José Berríos. La Makina was perfectly good for Toronto in 2021, although not quite amazing enough to help the 91-71 Blue Jays make the postseason. (It’s quite possible that whoever wins the AL Central this year might do so with a worse record than that.) Berríos has scuffled so far this year, although most of his current numbers (besides ERA) are roughly around those of career digits. 2022 YTD:

Per Ben: “Mahle relies primarily on his 4-seamer, splitter, and curveball, all of which are above average with great command.”

I’m no stats wizard and couldn’t tell you why this is for Berríos. Fortunately, our own John Foley is, and did in this interesting analysis. Basically, it’s a mechanical issue, one that well might be fixable, but John does it with all his customary Explaining Things ability that we love him for.

I didn’t have a lot of time to find fun preview things this week, but all the talk of different stadiums (supposedly, Cincinnati’s is tough on pitchers, that’s why Mahle should do better here) reminded me: Toronto played home games in three different ballparks last year. Because of COVID, and because rules for travel in between the US and Canada complicated matters (at least, until everyone basically gave up on COVID containment), the Jays played roughly half their “home” games in the US. The earliest ones were at their Spring Training complex in Florida, later ones were played in somewhat-near-to-Toronto Buffalo.

(Having already been granted a dispensation from MLB to skip customs regulations for a while, I guess it also made sense to let the Jays completely avoid any freak late-winter snowstorms. It’s not as cold in Buffalo as here, but it snows A LOT more because of lake effect. One Minnesotan who grew up in Buffalo told me that, as a kid, schools weren’t closed just by grade level, but by height – school officials didn’t want the littlest kids walking to the bus stop in snowdrifts. The Minnesotan who told me this is 6’6” now, was tall as a child, and accordingly got fewer snow days than his friends.)

I’ve seen Buffalo’s baseball stadium from the outside, briefly, and it looked kinda cool… so it won’t surprise anyone who pays attention to recent Baseball Buildings that it was actually deigned by mega-architects HOK/Populous (they also did Target Field).

It opened in 1988, and is considered the first “retro-classic” stadium in baseball (it was a dry run for the more famous Camden Yards in Baltimore, opened four years later). HOK’s first MLB stadiums were the universally unloved Devil Rays and White Sox ones in 1990 and 1991 – it’s the “retro classic” look first used on Buffalo’s Sahlen Field which made HOK the design juggernaut it is today. (Further classifications of ballpark design include “retro modern” for traditional stadiums with somewhat space-age exteriors, like Target Field’s infield canopy, and “contemporary” for joyous acid trips like whatever that Marlins thing is trying to be.)

The Wiki article on Sahlen Field is actually pretty interesting stuff, particularly on the history of baseball in Buffalo. The Negro League Indianapolis Clowns played there for four years (they didn’t change their city name when they moved, as the popular team had quite a significant national following). Hank Aaron was scouted and signed by the-then Boston Braves while he played in Buffalo. After losing Aaron, the Clowns signed professional baseball’s first permanent female player, former St. Paul resident Toni Stone.

Naturally, the new stadium in Buffalo was built (on the cheap) to attract a new MLB team; as you know, none ever materialized. Too small a TV market, I guess. But it does seem like a cooler building than Tropicana Field (also built on the cheap, and in a much crappier transit location).

In any case, the Jays are back in their SkyDome, now, and are planning something like $300 million in renovations. Does this mean getting rid of the very-windowed hotel rooms above the outfield? Maybe? Will that further destroy my chances of ever realizing my dream as a 12-year-old of somehow seeing a gorgeous naked person exhibitioning in a window (a story every 12-year-old is told happened to another 12-year-old they know)? Ah, well, age kills dreams, sometimes...

Today's Lineups

Whit Merrifield - CF Luis Arraez - 2B
Vladimir Guerrero - 1B Carlos Correa - SS
Lourdes Gurriel - DH Jorge Polanco - DH
Teoscar Hernandez - RF Jose Miranda - 3B
Bo Bichette - SS Nick Gordon - LF
Matt Chapman - 3B Jake Cave - RF
Danny Jansen - C Tim Beckham - 1B
Raimel Tapia - LF Mark Contreras - CF
Santiago Espinal - 2B Sandy Leon - C
Jose Berrios - RHP Tyler Mahle - RHP