Angels Take First MLB Regular Season Game In Dunedin

TD Ballpark hosted the first-ever major league game in Dunedin on Thursday night. (Tom Layberger)

DUNEDIN — It was an evening of firsts at TD Ballpark on Thursday.

While there was a slight delay with the umpires, former Rays manager Joe Maddon of the Angels and former Rays coach Charlie Montoya of the Blue Jays waiting for a ball boy to produce the Toronto lineup card, everything else went rather smooth on a gorgeous night when the temperature was 72 degrees at first pitch.

Speaking of first pitch, though four minutes tardy, Ross Stripling’s initial delivery was a strike to David Fletcher at 7:11.

Some other firsts, all before the, ahem, first inning concluded:

Mike Trout ripped a double to right for the first hit.

Trout scored the first run on a single by Anthony Rendon.

Cavan Biggio scored the first Blue Jays run on a single by Teoscar Hernandez.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched the first home run (404 feet to center) to cap a three-run first.

Indeed, it was a memorable evening for the 1,300 fans (8,500 capacity) who saw the first regular season major league game in Dunedin, a 7-5 Los Angeles win in 11 innings.  

It was the first of at least 22 games for the Blue Jays at their spring training home, made possible by the Canadian government not permitting non-essential travel across the border. The plan is to have the first three homestands in the town of 36,000 and go from there, whether it is going home to Toronto, continuing to play in Dunedin or having a layover at their Triple-A ballpark in Buffalo, where they played last season.

Travel was something Mike Trout’s fifth-inning home run off Stripling did. It went soaring over the left-center field wall and landed 444 feet from home plate, providing much delight for the handful of fans wearing his No. 27 jersey. The blast, which settled somewhere around the basketball courts of an adjacent elementary school, gave the Angels a 4-3 lead.

The lead would change hands and the score would be evened up before David Fletcher’s two-run single in the 11th inning, followed by Raisel Iglesias closing the door, settled things for the Halos…..and closed the book on the first game at TD Ballpark in Dunedin.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.