Blue Jays’ Ryu Hyun-jin takes ‘home debut’ in Buffalo in stride

August 10, 2020

 After making his first three starts of the 2020 season on the road, Toronto Blue Jays’ Ryu Hyun-jin will finally make his home debut this week — with a twist.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Blue Jays have been prohibited from playing their home games in Toronto this year. They’ve settled on Buffalo, New York, home of their Triple-A affiliate, as the temporary “home” for this pandemic-hit season.

Sahlen Field in Buffalo underwent upgrades to meet major league standards in recent weeks, in terms of clubhouse spacing, lights and other amenities, and will welcome the road warriors of a Blue Jays team Tuesday, local time, for a two-game set against the Miami Marlins. And Ryu has the honor of pitching in the opening game at 6:37 p.m. Tuesday in Eastern Time, or 7:37 a.m. Wednesday in Seoul.

“I’ve heard that the stadium is going to be better than expected,” Ryu told the local media in a Zoom interview at Fenway Park in Boston, where the Blue Jays wrapped up their weekend series against the Red Sox. “Though we have an off day tomorrow, I am going to visit the stadium to check out the field. I guess I’ll know what to make of the place once I actually see it in person.”

Technically speaking, the Blue Jays have played a couple of “home” games. While Sahlen Field was getting ready, the Blue Jays played the Washington Nationals in Washington as the home team on July 29 and 30. Ryu pitched in the second of those two games and was the losing pitcher in a 6-4 loss.

Following Sunday’s game against the Red Sox, the Blue Jays have spent 21 days away from home.

“If we spend about a week in one place, then we’ll get used to it,” Ryu said of finally playing at home. “We’ll be staying at a hotel anyway, so I don’t think there will be that much of a difference.”

After facing the Marlins for two games, the Blue Jays will have one day off and then host the Tampa Bay Rays for three more.

Ryu is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 innings so far. He won his most recent start last Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves, by throwing five shutout frames and striking out eight.