It’s not MLB Opening Day if people aren’t overreacting to the first of thousands of results over the course of a six-month season.
Opening Day 2020 isn’t yet here, of course, because MLB is waiting for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to ease. In the meantime, the makers of the Strat-O-Matic baseball simulation game are giving fans an opportunity to practice crowing or making cracks at the initial signs of success or failure.
SOM will be simulating the ’20 schedule while MLB’s return is delayed. The first day of games was played Thursday, through the company’s Baseball Daily platform. The results were mostly realistic and, naturally, ripe for fun hyperbole. Here’s a starting nine for the start of the project:
Your new AL East overlords: the Red Sox and Orioles
Just like everyone expected. The Sox topped the Blue Jays 3-2 on Rafael Devers’ second homer of the game, a solo shot in the top of the ninth off Ken Giles. The Orioles rallied to beat the Yankees 3-2 at Camden Yards. (OK, so the game isn’t 100 percent accurate, although Gleyber Torres did homer and Gary Sanchez was injured.) Opening Day is peak time for dreaming, as fans of every 1-0 team can tell you.
Edwin Diaz is still not good
The Nationals-Mets sim was tied after eight, and instead of Seth Lugo (broken toe) taking the mound, it was Diaz, who lost his closer’s job to Lugo late last season. The Strat Diaz served up a solo homer to Howie Kendrick, who hits just dingers whatever the setting. Daniel Hudson slammed the door in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 Washington win.
Chris Archer had a better revenge game than Charlie Morton
This Pirates-Rays Opening Day would have been interesting in real life because the starting pitchers each pitched for their respective foes. In the sim, Archer outdueled Morton by throwing six scoreless (Morton gave up two over six) and the Bucs went on to a 4-1 win at Tropicana Field.
Klubot is back
The real Rangers picked up Corey Kluber in an offseason trade with the Indians; on virtual Opening Day, cyber Kluber pitched like a two-time Cy Young Cyborg. He blanked the Mariners on three hits and struck out 10 over seven innings as Texas rolled to a 10-0 victory.
Mike Trout: Still good at baseball
Even pretend baseball. Trout homered twice and led the Angels past the Astros 9-6 at Minute Maid Park. The Halos trashed Astros starter Zack Greinke (installed in place of injured Justin Verlander) en route to the win.
White Sox: Overrated
Chicago has made real-life noise about being a playoff team this year; in the sim world, it’s 0-1 after a 5-2 loss to the Royals. Lucas Giolito (five innings, four runs) was not an ace.
The Dodgers may never lose
LA is on pace to go 162-0 after routing the Giants 10-3. Mookie Betts went hitless but Max Muncy and Justin Turner combined for five hits and five RBIs to back Clayton Kershaw.
Rockies-Padres can only be weird
Remember the real teams’ bonkers, historic series at Coors Field last June? The online alter egos did them proud to start the 2020 season sim. San Diego scored four in the bottom of the ninth to force extras, and then both teams then scored in 12th before Colorado plated three in the 13th for a 10-7 victory.
Mixed bag for the big movers
Here are the sim debuts for some of the stars who changed teams in the offseason:
Betts: 0 for 4 with an RBI.
Gerrit Cole: One run over six innings.
Anthony Rendon: 2 for 4, two runs scored.
Madison Bumgarner: Five innings, three runs, no-decision.
Josh Donaldson: 0 for 3, two strikeouts.
Hyun-Jin Ryu: Five innings, one earned run, six Ks.
If you’re a seamhead gamer or just a fan who’s going through baseball withdrawal, these sims ought to help you stay sharp(-witted) as you wait for the real games to begin.
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