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. Or, you know, at least get them back on schedule. Now, onto the recap!
C.J. Cron hit a pinch-hit, game-tying home run in the ninth inning, and Jonathan Schoop followed with a solo shot in the 10th to help the simulated Detroit Tigers vanquish their former team, the Minnesota Twins, in a 3-2 victory on (what should have been) Saturday afternoon.
For a while, this looked like a sure loss for the Tigers. They made some hard contact against Twins starter Jose Berrios at times, but looked lost just as often, with plenty of ugly swings against both his fastball and secondary offerings. Any hard-hit balls were directly at Twins defenders — consecutive lineouts from Victor Reyes and Harold Castro in the sixth were particularly frustrating — but Berrios struck out seven and did not walk a batter through eight innings.
Fortunately for the Tigers, Matthew Boyd kept pace. He danced out of trouble a couple of times early on, but did not allow a run until Eddie Rosario hit a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Boyd only allowed five hits on the day, and notched seven strikeouts of his own.
Buck Farmer nearly gave the game away in the eighth, but held on to keep the Tigers within striking distance. A pair of seeing-eye singles put runners at the corners with no out. Farmer induced a ground ball to first from Byron Buxton, and Miguel Cabrera threw home to nab the runner from third for the first out of the inning. Nelson Cruz followed with a single down the line, scoring Luis Arraez from second to double the Twins’ lead. But with the game in the balance, Farmer struck out Miguel Sano and forced a harmless fly out to end the inning.
Berrios came on for the ninth with just 94 pitches thrown, and quickly retired Dawel Lugo to open the frame. Victor Reyes, who had the best swings of any Tiger against Berrios on the day, hit a one out double. The Twins then went to their bullpen, which turned out to be a mistake. Detroit called on C.J. Cron to pinch-hit against left-handed closer Taylor Rogers, and Cron sent the first pitch he saw deep into the left field seats to tie the game.
After Joe Jimenez worked a scoreless ninth inning, Schoop hit Rogers’ first pitch in the 10th over the center field wall to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Jeimer Candelario nearly made it four in the next at-bat, but his high fly ball down the right field line went just foul. After the Tigers were retired, Jimenez gave up a pair of one-out hits — the second a weird video game play in which Miguel Cabrera didn’t tag the runner that went right by him — but got Nelson Cruz to ground into a double play to end the game.
Now that we seem to have found an appropriate difficulty level for my skills (or lack thereof) in this game, I am going to turn off the dynamic difficulty in hopes of keeping the results a little more consistent. Those paying close attention may have seen when the difficulty level went up or down in a given game, and the effect (especially when the difficulty goes up) is quite dramatic.
Additionally, I will upload two games in one day at some point this week to get us back on the Tigers’ regular schedule.
Christin Stewart was still banged up for this game, but will be back in the lineup on Sunday. With some players needing rest, this is the lineup the Tigers went with against Berrios.
Victor Reyes - CF
Harold Castro - LF
Miguel Cabrera - 1B
Niko Goodrum - DH
Jonathan Schoop - 2B
Jeimer Candelario - 3B
Cameron Maybin - RF
Austin Romine - C
Dawel Lugo - SS
Cron was one of several Tigers that needed a day off. In hopes of continuing to use the DH spot as a “rest” day, Miguel Cabrera will likely be out of the simulated Tigers’ lineup in Sunday’s game.