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!
The simulated Detroit Tigers squandered a leadoff double in the ninth inning, and Francisco Mejia hit a home run off Tigers closer Joe Jimenez in the top of the 10th as the San Diego Padres won a 5-4 nailbiter on Saturday at Comerica Park. The loss snapped a four-game Tigers win streak.
The squandering started early for the Tigers. They led off the bottom of the first against Padres starter Chris Paddack with two singles, but came up empty. Miguel Cabrera grounded out, advancing both runner to scoring position, but Christin Stewart’s fly out wasn’t deep enough to score the runner from third, and C.J. Cron grounded out harmlessly to third to end the threat.
While he breezed through the first inning, Daniel Norris struggled for the rest of the afternoon. Manny Machado hit a solo home run in the top of the second, giving the Padres a 1-0 lead. They managed two more hits in the inning, but Norris forced a Mejia groundout to end the frame.
The Tigers struck back with a two-out rally in the bottom of the second. Austin Romine singled up the middle, and Dawel Lugo followed with a ground rule double to left. Victor Reyes came through with a single up the middle, his second of the game so far, to put the Tigers ahead, 2-1.
The see-saw battle continued from there. The Padres plated a tying run in the top of the third on a Fernando Tatis Jr. sacrifice fly, and C.J. Cron responded with a solo home run (his eighth of the year) in the bottom of the inning. Brian Dozier walked with one out in the fourth, and Josh Naylor followed with a two-run homer, putting the Padres back ahead, 4-3. Outfielder Clint Frazier, making his debut with the simulated Tigers (details here!), doubled to left-center in the bottom of the fourth, and eventually scored on a Reyes triple with two outs.
The bats went quiet on both sides after that. Cal Quantrill came into relieve Paddack in the sixth, and limited the Tigers to just one hit and one walk over the next four innings. The Tigers countered with a trio of relievers when Norris departed after six frames, and held the score at 4-4 until the game went to extra innings. Joe Jimenez, who helped the Tigers take three of four from the New York Yankees in their last series, hung a changeup to Mejia, who deposited it over the right field wall to give San Diego a 5-4 lead. While Jimenez retired the next three batters in order, it was not enough; Padres closer Kirby Yates worked a quick 10th inning for his 10th save of the year, sending the Tigers to a loss.
While some commenters made a convincing case to send down Harold Castro, the results of our poll (in our last recap, if you missed it) were decidedly in favor of sending JaCoby Jones to Triple-A Toledo. Jones was a fitting replacement for the departed Jorge Bonifacio, who was logging plenty of innings in right field for the Mud Hens. Additionally, the simulated Tigers designated outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Frazier.
This was Saturday’s scheduled game, so the simulated Tigers have one more game remaining against the Padres before an off day on Monday. I am thinking of giving Michael Fulmer the start, both to give the rotation some extra rest — Spencer Turnbull might not be at full stamina in the game, which is weird — and to get Fulmer some game action after Ivan Nova stole the show on Friday. While realism has somewhat gone out the window with the Frazier trade (or Fulmer being fully healthy already) I will be looking to get through four or five innings with Fulmer before turning things over to the bullpen.