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 earned a series split with the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, scraping together just enough offense to support Daniel Norris in a 3-2 win at Comerica Park. Norris held the Rays to two runs in seven innings to earn his sixth win of the year.
The Tigers struck first in this one, starting off what would be a short afternoon for Rays starter Charlie Morton. Harold Castro kicked off a first inning rally with a nine-pitch walk, and C.J. Cron followed with a single. Cameron Maybin turned on a cutter and sent it down the left field line to score Castro, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead. While Detroit wouldn’t add any more runs in the inning, they forced Morton to throw 27 pitches, a consistent theme for the afternoon.
The Rays tied the game in the third, but could have come away with so much more. The bottom of their lineup — Jose Martinez, Willy Adames, and Mike Zunino — kicked off the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases. But while Kevin Kiermaier’s ground ball scored Martinez from third, the Tigers infield was able to turn it into a double play, all but killing Tampa’s rally. Norris then forced a long, but lazy fly ball from Joey Wendle to end the inning with a runner stranded at third base.
While an escape like that would be big in any game, it was especially important given the Tigers’ continued struggles with runners on base. They continued to work Morton’s pitch count — he threw 100 pitches in just five innings of work — and put a runner on base in every inning against him, but their other two runs both came via the solo home run. Christin Stewart gave the Tigers lead in the fourth, sending a 3-2 Morton fastball over the wall in deep right-center for his eighth homer of the season. The dinger should have been a two-run shot, but Jonathan Schoop was picked off of first base just before that ill-fated pitch to the Tigers’ left fielder. Jeimer Candelario added a run in the sixth with a solo homer off reliever Brendan McKay, extending Detroit’s lead to 3-1.
The Rays pulled a run closer in the top of the seventh when Hunter Renfroe sent a Norris fastball over the right field wall, but that’s all they would manage against the Tigers’ pitching staff. Buck Farmer worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and Joe Jimenez skated around an infield single in the ninth — the camera angle they use to make me field those plays is horrendous — to clinch his ninth save of the year.
The game told me prior to Sunday’s loss that Miguel Cabrera was unavailable because of a cold. He is still sick, apparently, and was not available for this game either.
In the minor leagues, the simulated versions of Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning are now healthy (even I, the one playing the sim, was unaware that Manning was hurt).
The Tigers will welcome in the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday for a three-game series, followed by a weekend trip to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks.