Entire series with Blue Jays will be played at Nationals Park

The Nationals won’t have to leave South Capitol Street for their first road series of the season.

Though the Blue Jays finally found a replacement home in Buffalo, the Triple-A ballpark in Western New York won’t be ready for play until next weekend at the earliest. So their first scheduled home series, July 29-30 versus the Nats, will be played at Nationals Park, a source familiar with the decision said.

The Nats and Jays already are playing a two-game series in D.C. from July 27-28. They originally were supposed to fly north of the border and meet again for another two games at Rogers Centre, but after the Canadian government shot down the club’s plan to play in Toronto, a mad scramble ensued to find a temporary home for this most unusual season.

Despite a stated preference to play in a major league facility, attempts to work out a deal in either Pittsburgh or Baltimore failed, so the Blue Jays reverted to their backup plan and will set up shop at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field.

But that minor league stadium needs to upgrade its lighting, clubhouses and dugouts to accommodate major league games with adequate social distancing. So rather than rush the job, the Blue Jays will just stay in Washington for all four games with the Nationals.

Thumbnail image for Nats-Park-Dugout-Roof-sidebar.jpgThat means the Nats will be playing two games in their home ballpark as the designated visiting team. The July 29 game will start at 6:05 p.m., with the July 30 series finale at 4:05 p.m.

The switch also extends the Nationals’ season-opening homestand to seven games (three versus the Yankees, four against the Blue Jays). Their first road trip will last only three days (July 31-Aug. 2 at the Marlins) which means they’ll end up playing 12 of their first 15 games in their home ballpark.

Though this is the first time the Nationals will have played as the road team in D.C., it won’t be the first time they’ve flipped home-visitor roles with an opponent.

On May 5, 2009, the Nats and Astros were tied 10-10 in the 11th inning at Nationals Park when a lengthy storm forced the game to be suspended. Because it was the last time the two teams were scheduled to face each other in D.C. that season, the game was eventually resumed July 9 in Houston prior to the start of another series at Minute Maid Park.

The Nationals, technically the home team despite wearing gray road uniforms, celebrated a walk-off win in the bottom of the 11th. Nyjer Morgan, who had been acquired from the Pirates in the interim, scored the winning run. Joel Hanrahan, who had been dealt to the Pirates in that trade, wound up credited with the win because he pitched the top of the inning two months earlier.

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