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Complete history of MLB games played abroad

A breakdown of regular-season contests played outside the continental U.S. and Canada
MLB.com

Baseball is a global game -- the World Baseball Classic is a perfect example of how the sport has spread to countries all around the world -- and Major League Baseball has become increasingly international over the years as well.

That's not just in terms of the ever-larger number of countries that Major League players hail from. Ever since 1996, when the Mets and Padres traveled to Mexico to play a three-game series in Monterrey, MLB games have been played in countries that don't have Major League teams to call their own.

Baseball is a global game -- the World Baseball Classic is a perfect example of how the sport has spread to countries all around the world -- and Major League Baseball has become increasingly international over the years as well.

That's not just in terms of the ever-larger number of countries that Major League players hail from. Ever since 1996, when the Mets and Padres traveled to Mexico to play a three-game series in Monterrey, MLB games have been played in countries that don't have Major League teams to call their own.

This week, for two games, the Indians and Twins take to Puerto Rico -- which, although it is a U.S. territory, competes as its own team in international baseball competitions like the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics. The Indians' Francisco Lindor and the Twins' Jose Berrios are just a couple of the Puerto Rico natives starring for those two teams.

Here is a rundown of the Major League Baseball games and series to take place outside the continental United States and Canada. Games are separated by country and listed in chronological order.

MEXICO

Aug. 16-18, 1996: Padres vs. Mets -- Estadio de Beisbol, Monterrey

The first MLB regular-season game played outside the U.S. or Canada came more than two decades ago as the Mets and Padres met for the first of three games in Mexico.

That first game was played in front of 23,699 fans, who packed the 25,644-seat stadium. Mexican baseball hero Fernando Valenzuela -- probably the country's greatest Major Leaguer -- not only threw out the ceremonial first pitch, but started the game for the Padres. "With Fernando pitching we're going to feel like the home team," manager Bruce Bochy told The New York Times.

The game was a 15-10 slugfest in favor the Padres. Valenzuela picked up the win for San Diego, Tony Gwynn went 2-for-3 out of the leadoff spot, Ken Caminiti slugged a three-run homer and Greg Vaughn crushed a grand slam.

Video: NYM@SD: Vaughn hits slam in game played in Mexico

The following two games also drew big crowds, with 20,873 on hand for the second game and 22,810 at the series finale. The Mets won Game 2, 7-3 -- but the Padres took the series, shutting out the Mets, 8-0, in the finale. Trevor Hoffman closed the game.

April 4, 1999: Padres vs. Rockies -- Estadio de Beisbol, Monterrey

Major League Baseball returned to Mexico three years later. This time it was only for a single game -- but it was Opening Day, rather than a midseason slate.

The crowd was the biggest yet for a game in Mexico: 27,104. Once again, the Padres were the home team. But the Rockies came away with the win, an 8-2 victory. Mexico native Vinny Castilla was one of the stars of the game, ripping four hits for Colorado. Dante Bichette also had four hits, including a sixth-inning home run. Padres icons Gwynn and Hoffman once again played as they did in the first Mexico series, with Gwynn notching a hit and Hoffman tossing an inning in relief.

"It was a good night for me," Castilla would say after the game. "I tried my last two at-bats to hit a home run. It didn't happen, but I'm happy for the win. … I feel really excited I played in front of fans in my own country."

Video: COL@SD: Castilla collects four hits on Opening Day

JAPAN

March 29-30, 2000: Mets vs. Cubs -- Tokyo Dome

The season after the Padres and Rockies opened in Mexico, MLB went overseas for the first time. On Opening Day 2000, the Mets and Cubs played in the Tokyo Dome, the first game of a two-game season-opening set in Japan.

In front of a massive crowd of 55,000 fans, the Cubs beat the Mets, 5-3, in Game 1. The big hitters for both teams showed up, with Sammy Sosa going 2-for-3 with a double for Chicago and Mike Piazza went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer for the Mets.

Because the Mets were part of the inaugural Mexico series in 1996, this series made them the first Major League team to play games in two different countries outside the U.S. and Canada. "We were saying that it felt like a regular-season game," Piazza said. "We were the home team, but we felt like an away team. Once you got between the lines, it was just a regular game."

The Mets would win a dramatic second game, 5-1, in 11 innings to end the Japan series with a bang. The go-ahead hit was a pinch-hit grand slam by Benny Agbayani in the top of the 11th.

Video: NYM@CHC: Agbayani's grand slam lifts the Mets

March 30-31, 2004: Yankees vs. Devil Rays -- Tokyo Dome

The Tokyo Dome again hosted on Opening Day in 2004, when the Yankees and Rays took to the field.

The Yankees had Japanese superstar Hideki Matsui, who had just come to the big leagues from Nippon Professional Baseball a year earlier, in 2003. Matsui was returning to his own home stadium -- he had spent a decade with the Yomiuri Giants, who play in the Tokyo Dome.

Matsui was coming off an excellent rookie season in MLB, and he would be even better in 2004. It all started in his home country, to wild fanfare. The Yankees lost the opener, 8-3, but Matsui recorded the very first hit of the MLB season, a double in the first inning. Then he helped lead the Bronx Bombers to a blowout 12-1 win in the series finale, going 2-for-5 and launching a two-run homer. Attendance was listed at 55,000 for each game.

Video: NYY@TB: Matsui gets first hit of 2004 season in Japan

"I'm just glad Matsui's a Yankee and not a Giant," said Kevin Brown, who won his Yankees debut in the second game. "He did an unbelievable job of handling everything he's had to go through over here."

March 25-26, 2008: Red Sox vs. A's -- Tokyo Dome

Four seasons after their rivals, the Red Sox made the trip to Japan to start the 2008 season. The defending World Series champions played a two-game set against the A's, again at the Tokyo Dome.

Like the Yankees in 2004, the Red Sox had a star Japanese player a year removed from the NPB-to-MLB jump: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had played for the Seibu Lions before coming to Boston and helping the Red Sox win their second title in four seasons.

Dice-K started the season opener in Japan in front of a crowd of 44,628 and pitched five solid innings, allowing two runs and striking out six. The Red Sox pulled off a thrilling comeback in the game to win, 6-5, in 10 innings. With Boston down a run in the ninth, Brandon Moss hit the game-tying home run off A's closer Huston Street, and in the 10th, Manny Ramirez belted a tiebreaking double. Hideki Okajima, who himself had just joined the Red Sox from NPB and once pitched for the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, picked up the win in relief.

"I actually had some nerves, even when I was on the mound," Okajima said after the game. "But I was pumped up by the cheering and everybody was just playing so hard. So I thought I had to do the same as well."

Video: BOS@OAK: Moss' homer ties game in top of 9th

The A's earned a series split in the next game with 44,735 fans in attendance, beating the Red Sox, 5-1, on the strength of Rich Harden's six sharp innings of one-run, nine-strikeout baseball.

March 28-29, 2012: Mariners vs. A's -- Tokyo Dome 

In what would turn out to be Ichiro Suzuki's final season with the Mariners (until his return in 2018), the Japanese legend returned to his home country, where he starred for the Orix Blue Wave, for a season-opening series against the A's.

On Opening Day, in front of 44,227 fans, Ichiro lived up to all the hype, collecting four hits in the Mariners' 3-1, 11-inning win -- including driving in Seattle's final run with a two-out RBI hit in the 11th. The A's won the second game, 4-1, in front of a crowd of 43,391, with Bartolo Colon pitching eight innings and allowing just one run.

"I've never been that nervous before," Ichiro said after the first game. "The warmth of the fans almost made me want to cry. … I felt the significance of the occasion. I knew it would only happen once in my life. I wanted to share a special moment and give something back to them."

Video: SEA@OAK: Ceremonial first pitch thrown in Japan

The series had some extra meaning, too, as MLB and the MLB Players Association took the opportunity to assist in the rebuilding efforts in Japan following the previous year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

AUSTRALIA

March 22-23, 2014: Dodgers vs. D-backs -- Sydney Cricket Ground

Major League Baseball took to Australia for the first time in 2014, with the Dodgers and D-backs starting their regular season with two games.

Clayton Kershaw treated the 38,266 fans to a sparkling pitching performance on Opening Day, allowing only one run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven. Scott Van Slyke's two-run homer provided most of the offense as Los Angeles won, 3-1.

"We came a long way to get one [win]" Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "You like to start off on the right foot."

The Dodgers then swept the mini-series with a 7-5 win in Game 2, with 38,079 fans in attendance. Yasiel Puig led the way with a 3-for-5, two-RBI day, and although Arizona pulled within two runs in the ninth after Mark Trumbo launched a home run off Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers held on for the victory.

Video: LAD@ARI: Jansen gets the final out

PUERTO RICO

There have been 47 MLB games played in Puerto Rico at San Juan's Estadio Hiram Bithorn. Forty-three of them were played by the Expos during the 2003 and '04 seasons, the franchise's final two seasons before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals.

The other four Puerto Rico games were played in 2001 and 2010, as part of individual MLB events.

April 1, 2001: Blue Jays vs. Rangers -- Estadio Hiram Bithorn, San Juan

The first game played in Puerto Rico was an Opening Day affair between the Blue Jays and Rangers in 2001 -- so MLB games had already been played in Mexico and Japan by this point.

Both teams had star Puerto Rican players: Ivan Rodriguez for the Rangers and Carlos Delgado for the Blue Jays. Toronto won the game, 8-1, with an announced crowd of 19,891 at Estadio Hiram Bithorn. Delgado roped an RBI single in the seventh inning.

Video: TEX@TOR: Blue Jays win on Opening Day in Puerto Rico

June 28-30, 2010: Marlins vs. Mets -- Estadio Hiram Bithorn, San Juan

Six years after the Expos' run of games in San Juan, Major League Baseball returned to Puerto Rico with a three-game series between the Marlins and Mets. The Marlins' interim manager at the time, Edwin Rodriguez, was the first Puerto Rico native to manage in the Majors.

The Marlins won the first two games, 10-3 and 7-6, respectively. The second game was an exciting walk-off win -- after the Mets rallied for two runs to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning, Dan Uggla delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.

New York took the series finale, 6-5. David Wright led the way for the Mets with a pair of doubles and a pair of RBIs. Crowds of 18,073, 18,373 and 19,232 were announced for the three games.

Video: 6/28/10: Cora, Perez talk about Puerto Rico series

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.