The scoreboard told a difficult story and that, of course, is Jonah Heim's top priority. But if the Amherst native were to go on and play a decade or more in the major leagues, he'll probably never have another weekend like this one.
The story of Jonah Heim – who has never played in Sahlen Field – has been well-documented, but the perseverance bears repeating.
Heim's Texas Rangers lost a doubleheader to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday and got shut out in both games. He didn't play in the opener and went 1 for 3 in the nightcap – when he piled up more standing ovations from the Sahlen Field crowd.
"It's terribly disappointing when you get swept on the road coming off the break, but playing at home in front of all friends and family, it was pretty awesome," Heim said. "Definitely a surreal moment out there. Especially when everybody's standing up cheering when you're the visiting player. It's pretty cool."
There was polite applause for Heim on Friday, but the ballpark erupted when he singled to right field in the seventh inning, the applause growing into a standing ovation from most of the fans.
"It was definitely emotional. I know I didn't really show it, but inside I mean, that was just pure joy," he said. "Just to see the love from the hometown fans and acknowledgement of me coming back and playing and just getting a measly base hit. That's pretty special. Something I'll never forget."
Heim grounded out to short in the second inning Sunday and singled to right again in the fifth. The emotions really came out prior to Heim's final at-bat in the seventh. The applause grew after his introduction, with his family members and many other fans again standing.
It got to the point that Heim had to step out of the batter's box to collect himself before bouncing a chopper back to pitcher Taylor Saucedo. After crossing first base, there was more applause and Heim slowly walked back to the dugout. He was clearly looking at his family behind first base and all around his home park after what you would imagine would be the final at-bat of his MLB career at home.
"Obviously, I didn't want to ground back to the pitcher, so that was a little frustrating, but it is what it is," said Heim, who is batting .232. "Just a lot of emotions going into that last at-bat. A little frustration, a little joy, just all the emotions came up at one time and I just had to take a breath."
The message you get from the Toronto Blue Jays is consistent: No offense, Buffalo, but it's time to go home.
As for the game itself, Heim, pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and the Rangers' dugout were all frustrated with plate umpire Ryan Additon's strike zone. The Blue Jays had no runs with two out in the first, but eventually scored twice before Heim thought Cavan Biggio had struck out on a close pitch. Additon felt otherwise and Biggio eventually walked.
Lourdes Gurriel rocketed a grand slam to left on the next pitch for a 6-0 Toronto lead and that was that.
"Things didn't go our way that inning, but when things don't go our way, we got to buckle down and try to get some more outs," Heim said. "I don't know what went wrong. 'Folty' made some great pitches, just some soft hits here and there and then they put together a good ending."
When the game was over, Heim came to the screen in right field. He signed a few autographs and said hello to his family and friends – many of whom wore his No. 28 Rangers jersey – before jogging off to the clubhouse in the Exchange Street parking lot and the plane to Detroit.
He knew his family would be leading the cheers this weekend. Getting the rest of the crowd to join them turned into a lifelong memory.
"The support is huge, especially being in the minors for seven years, and then finally getting this opportunity and they stuck with me the whole seven years," he said of his family. "And it shows just how much these people in Buffalo love sports. They follow it and they keep in touch with it. It's a tribute to the fans in Buffalo."