For the first time in their modern era and perhaps for the first time in their history dating to 1877, the Buffalo Bisons' season will extend into October.
Major League Baseball announced late Thursday night that the Triple-A schedule will get an additional two weeks of play added to its previous closing date and will conclude Oct. 3, the same date as clubs' MLB parents.
The Bisons/Thunder were on top of their game in all phases in their season opener against the Worcester Red Sox, scoring two runs in the first and loping home with a 6-1 victory before a socially-distanced sellout crowd of 1,526.
Under the current schedule, the Bisons' final home game was Sept. 12 in Syracuse and the season finale was Sept. 19 in Rochester. The clubs are now going to play 10 more games, with off days Sept. 20-21 and Sept. 27-28. In their modern-era dating to 1985, the Bisons have never played more than eight regular-season games in September.
The additional games were added to create a 130-game season after Covid protocols delayed the start of the campaign into May. The opponents and sites have yet to be determined. The Bisons are currently playing home games in Trenton, N.J., but could return to Sahlen Field if the Toronto Blue Jays get permission to return home to Rogers Centre.
"We were trying to process this and figure out what it all means," Bisons General Manager Anthony Sprague said Friday. "Adding additional games on would make it likelier they come back, but it's all dependent on the Blue Jays season."
The additional games have not been officially announced, but Sprague said he expects that to come from MLB next week. The assumption is that each team will get one five-game series at home, and one five-gamer on the road.
The Bisons would need about two weeks to transition from Trenton to Buffalo. Because of that, it was unlikely they were going to leave New Jersey this year if the Blue Jays remained here well into August. Added games in September could increase the odds of a return to Buffalo.
The Blue Jays are committed to Buffalo through July 21 and have yet announce a decision on the homestand that opens July 30 and runs through Aug. 8 against Kansas City, Cleveland and Boston.
"We're going to go as fast as we can to bring the Bisons back if the Blue Jays return home," Sprague said.
There will be no playoffs in Triple-A this year and the team with the best record in the East and West leagues following the completion of games on Oct. 3 will be declared the league champion. MLB has added playoffs at the Double-A, High-A and Low-A levels, with the top two teams in each league competing in a best of 5 series that opens Sept. 21.
The Bisons are 29-19 and five games back of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which has the league's top record, in the Northeast Division. Buffalo is fifth overall, with a 12-2 record in its last 14 games and a four-game winning streak.
The Bisons were rained out Thursday night against Lehigh Valley and the teams were to play a doubleheader Friday night in Trenton.