With Opening Day postponed and no firm date in sight for MLB’s return, there aren’t many places to turn for baseball action.
That is, unless you have a PlayStation 4 and a copy of MLB The Show. In lieu of real baseball, I simulated the Orioles’ season opener against the New York Yankees. While no substitution for the real thing, it does present an opportunity to talk some baseball in a time when the sporting world is at a standstill.
Here’s how the game went.
Away: New York Yankees
2B DJ LeMahieu
CF Brett Gardner
SS Gleyber Torres
C Gary Sanchez
1B Luke Voit
DH Miguel Andújar
LF Mike Tauchman
3B Gio Urshela
RF Clint Frazier
RHP: Gerrit Cole
Home: Baltimore Orioles
2B Hanser Alberto
SS José Iglesias
RF Anthony Santander
DH Renato Núñez
1B Chris Davis
CF Austin Hays
LF Dwight Smith Jr.
3B Rio Ruiz
C Pedro Severino
LHP: John Means
The Yankees have been devastated by injuries. If Opening Day were to have happened Thursday, they would’ve played without Aaron Judge (chest), Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) and Aaron Hicks (elbow) in the lineup. That made things interesting in the outfield, where Tauchman and Frazier got the starts.
Without Judge or Stanton, Torres slid up to the No. 3 spot with Sanchez batting cleanup. Andújar was the obvious choice at designated hitter given his defensive woes, giving Urshela the starting job he earned as an injury replacement last season.
The Orioles’ lineup could’ve gone several different ways. Hays was reportedly in consideration for the leadoff spot in December, but a poor spring training pushed him down the order. Iglesias is the most established player on Baltimore’s roster and was an easy choice to bat second.
With Trey Mancini recovering from surgery for colon cancer, I placed the switch-hitting Santander third to break up the righties at the top of the order, then slotted Davis in at fifth because he’s still being paid to be a superstar even if he hasn’t played like one in four years. The players that filled the last three spots could’ve been penciled into the lineup card in any order and I couldn’t have argued against it.
It was the Gerrit Cole show in Baltimore right from the start and things never got much better for the Orioles from there. The Yankees’ prized offseason addition retired the first 14 hitters he faced, carrying a perfect game into the fifth inning before Hays roped a two-out double into the right-centerfield gap.
That would be one of two hits the Orioles would muster all afternoon, the other a single in the seventh—also by Hays.
Means got the Opening Day start after finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting last season and looked sharp early. He allowed one baserunner in each of his first three frames but settled down each time, even racking up a few strikeouts.
But things unraveled in the fourth. He loaded the bases for Tauchman, who hit a sharp grounder off the glove of Alberto at second to score a run. Voit scored on a sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Urshela, prompting Orioles manager Brandon Hyde to pull the quick hook and bring in Hector Velázquez. LeMahieu promptly drove in two more with a line-drive single, leaving Means with an ugly stat line that could’ve been prevented had he been given the chance to work out of the jam.
John Means’ Line: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R (4 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 82 pitches/50 strikes
Cole continued to cruise through the Orioles’ lineup. Alberto, Núñez and Davis each went 0-3 with two strikeouts against him, and no one else—outside of Hays, who will definitely be hitting leadoff in the next sim—fared much better.
Perhaps the most questionable move by Yankees skipper Aaron Boone. It was only Opening Day, yet Cole was allowed to pitch deep into the contest and rack up a pitch count few starters have reached in recent years.
Gerrit Cole’s Line: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 10 K, 122 pitches/81 strikes
Nevertheless, the results were about as expected. Without Mancini in the lineup, the Orioles lacked any weapons that threatened to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard. The Yankees cruised to their first win of the season and Cole looked as good as advertised.
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