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 scored three runs in the first inning and kept the Kansas City Royals at arm’s length throughout a 7-2 victory at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday. Daniel Norris threw seven strong innings for his third win of the year, and the Tigers offense collected 15 hits in a balanced effort.
After losing on Friday, it was clear the Tigers were determined to get back in the win column. The first four hitters of the game reached base against Royals starter Jakob Junis, leading to an early run. Jeimer Candelario led off the game with a double, and Cameron Maybin followed with a bloop single after working a deep count. Miguel Cabrera punched a single into left field to score Candelario, putting the Tigers up 1-0, and Christin Stewart continued the hit parade with a ground rule double to double Detroit’s lead. After Junis retired C.J. Cron for the first out of the inning, Niko Goodrum hit a routine ground ball to short that scored Maybin from third. The grounder was bobbled by shortstop Kelvin Gutierrez for an error, but Junis retired the next two batters, halting any further damage that inning.
Key words: “that inning.” The Tigers continued where they left off in the top of the second, and would have been up by even more were it not for some careless baserunning. Harold Castro doubled deep into the right-center gap to lead off the inning, but was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a triple. And, after a Candelario and Maybin walk, Maybin was thrown out at the plate when trying to score from first on a Cabrera double.
(In defense of that play, I had trouble seeing the flight of the ball off the bat. Had Maybin been running full out from the beginning, he would have scored easily.)
The Royals scored runs in the third and fourth innings to chip away at Detroit’s lead. Maikel Franco led off the bottom of the third with a double, and moved to third on an Alex Gordon groundout. Brett Phillips’ fly ball to left scored Franco easily, bringing the Royals back within three runs. Jorge Soler followed with a home run, his 11th of the season, in the fourth inning to cut Detroit’s lead to 4-2.
That’s as close as the Royals would get, though. Goodrum answered Soler’s homer with a solo shot of his own in the top of the fifth, bringing the score to 5-2. The score stayed that way for a few innings, as Norris and the back end of the Tigers’ bullpen clamped down on Kansas City’s previously red-hot offense. They held the Royals to just six hits in all, and the Tigers offense added a couple of insurance runs in the ninth inning to seal the win.
According to the simulation powers that be, Victor Reyes was pulled from the starting lineup after sustaining a hamstring injury before the game. He is currently listed as day-to-day. Additionally, left-handed prospect Tarik Skubal will also be out for a few days with a minor injury. Skubal is currently 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA and 30 strikeouts through 22 innings at Double-A Erie.