TORONTO -- Rogers Centre is as exciting a place to watch baseball as any in the big leagues right now. Its tenants, the Blue Jays, opened June on a five-game win streak and carried a division lead of 5 1/2 games into the opener of a three-game Interleague set Friday evening against the Cardinals.
The dome that hosted back-to-back World Series championships in 1992-93 is certainly due for a party in its honor. Now rebranded as the Rogers Centre, the SkyDome celebrated its 25th anniversary prior to first pitch on Friday night.
"You never really get an advantage in here as a pitcher, but it's a great place to hit, and I think it's a great place for fans," former Blue Jays pitcher Jimmy Key said before the game. "They've got a perfect night every night. If it's bad, you shut the roof. If it's beautiful like it is tonight, you open the roof, and it's a great ballpark."
Key won the decisive Game 6 in Toronto during the 1992 World Series, and he noted the Game 4 victory against the Atlanta Braves as his most memorable moment on the turf. On Friday night, the four-time All-Star with a career spanning 15 years took the mound to toss the ceremonial first pitch to his former catcher Ernie Whitt. Key was on the mound on June 5, 1989, for the stadium's first big league game, with Whitt behind the dish.
Canadian band Glass Tiger performed on the stadium's opening night, and lead singer Alan Frew returned Friday to perform the national anthems. Also on hand was former manager Cito Gaston, who led Toronto to its World Series titles and began a brief second stint as skipper when he replaced current Blue Jays manager John Gibbons in 2008. He received a standing ovation when he delivered the lineup to the umpiring crew.
With the dome open, the 2014 roster entered play against the Cardinals with a .607 winning percentage -- the club's highest mark this early in a season since 1992 (38-23), Key's last year as a Blue Jay.
Encarnacion back for opener against Cards
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays had another offensive weapon in the lineup Friday evening to welcome the Cardinals to Rogers Centre for the first game in a set of three.
Edwin Encarnacion was batting fifth in the order as the designated hitter after sitting out of Thursday's series finale against the Tigers with a tight back.
"He's good to go, so he's in there," manager John Gibbons said, noting he hoped Encarnacion would be able to play the field at some point over the weekend.
The slugger was forced to exit Toronto's 8-2 victory at Comerica Park on Wednesday.
Steph Rogers is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.