Like many of our friends throughout the SB Nation network, we are simulating the 2020 MLB season with MLB The Show 20. While we are unable to stream the games as they would otherwise be happening, we will try to get ahead of the curve and post about the games on the same day they would have taken place. Now, onto the recap!
Man, these video games are realistic! The Detroit Tigers simulation bullpen did their best impersonation of the real life product on Sunday, allowing five runs in the eighth inning of a 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Rony Garcia gave up a three-run home run to Oscar Mercado, and Jose Cisnero allowed the final two runs to take the loss.
Most of the game played out just like the first two of the series. Spencer Turnbull was excellent in his first start of the season, and worked five scoreless innings with just three hits allowed. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter. Tyler Alexander followed with two efficient innings in relief, keeping the Tribe scoreless through seven.
The Tigers offense got rolling in the third. Grayson Greiner blooped a single into right field to open the inning, and JaCoby Jones followed with a single of his own down the line in left. Cameron Maybin added another single, scoring Greiner to put the Tigers up 1-0. They added two more runs in the fifth on consecutive sacrifice flies. Jones singled to open the inning, and Goodrum followed with a double off the left field wall. Cameron Maybin and Miguel Cabrera both hit fly balls deep enough to score both runners, stretching the Tigers’ lead to 3-0. Christin Stewart added a solo home run in the top of the eighth, his third of the year.
Things unraveled quickly in the eighth. With Buck Farmer unavailable after throwing two innings the previous day, Rony Garcia took the ball for the Tigers. Roberto Perez singled with one out, and Cesar Hernandez followed with a double off the wall in left. Oscar Mercado hit a three-run homer on the very next pitch, bringing his team within one run.
After a Francisco Lindor single, the Tigers went to Jose Cisnero, who didn’t fare much better. JaCoby Jones misplayed a deep fly ball off the bat of Jose Ramirez, which bounced over the center field wall for a ground rule double. While the bounce initially helped the Tigers by keeping Lindor at third base, Tyler Naquin put the Indians ahead for good with a two-run single up the middle.
The simulation Tigers made a couple of substitutions in their lineup on Sunday, giving JaCoby Jones and Grayson Greiner their first starts of the season. Both players managed a pair of hits and a run scored. Niko Goodrum adjusted to the leadoff spot nicely, with two hits of his own. I’m interested to see how players respond to in-game fatigue going forward.
Here was the full lineup:
Niko Goodrum - SS
Cameron Maybin - RF
Miguel Cabrera - 1B
Christin Stewart - LF
Jonathan Schoop - 2B
C.J. Cron - DH
Jeimer Candelario - 3B
Grayson Greiner - C
JaCoby Jones - CF
I will be interested to see how MLB The Show’s dynamic difficulty settings respond to the one bad inning. Those paying close attention may see that the difficulty meter went down sharply after Cleveland’s big eighth inning, negating most of the “progress” made through the first seven innings.
Additionally, I will try to look ahead and adjust the in-game weather to whatever is forecast in that city on game days. Cleveland was forecast for some level of rain on Sunday, which worked out in the simulation, though I doubt the weather looks as dark there as it did in the game (remember, this was a day game!)
Ivan Nova barely edged out Michael Fulmer in our poll on the site yesterday, so he will start the season as our fifth starter. However, with an off day after the Tigers’ home opener on Monday, Matthew Boyd will start against Kansas City on Wednesday. Nova will make his season debut on Thursday against Cleveland, followed by Daniel Norris and the rest of the rotation. Jordan Zimmermann will start the home opener because you know he would have in real life.