Welcome to Opening Day 2020! The coronavirus pandemic may have most people sheltering in place while the real MLB season faces an uncertain future, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on the game entirely. Over the next several weeks, the originally planned 2020 MLB season is going to be played out using Out of the Park Baseball 21. Hopefully, in the coming days, we will be able to iron out the technical details to provide some sort of interactive stream or something. The exact format and so forth is still being worked on, since all of this only started coming together back on Friday the 20th. Until then though, the games will be simulated and then a recap will be provided.
In order to eliminate as much personal bias as possible, I set the game up assigning myself as General Manager, but left the compiter in charge of Torey Lovullo’s duties. This made sure I could set the roster according to something resembling reality and also make sure that reality stayed on track moving forward. To set the Opening Day 26-man roster, I used Michael’s 26-man prediction from earlier in the offseason.
This meant that Yasmany Tomas was sent back to Reno, along with Kevin Cron and there were some pitching changes as well, namely bringing Merrill Kelly back up to the Diamondbacks. Using the editor, Sherfy was reassigned to Reno despite being out of options. Once the 26-man roster was set, I went hands-off. The decisions for lineups and playing time were left to Virtual Lovullo.
The Arizona Diamondbacks hosted the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field. The smell of Costco chicken bakes permeated the air. Children bounced off the walls with pent up energy. Despite a significant hit to supply chain logistics, there was still Dr. Pepper and Blue Moon a plenty for the fans. Despite it being a lovely day outside, the game was played with the roof closed and the game time temperature inside was 73 degrees.
Robbie Ray was the Opening Day starter for the Diamondbacks. In a preview of things to come, he walked the leadoff hitter, Ender Inciarte. Inciarte was followed by Ozzie Albies who was safe on a fielder’s choice. Albies proceeded to steal second base. The throw wasn’t even particularly close to nailing him. Freddie Freeman then hit a single to center. Albies tested the arm of Starling Marte and was called safe on a close play at home. Freeman took second on the throw home. Ray then struck out the next two batters he faced to end the top half of the inning.
Mike Soroka allowed a single to David Peralta, who took second on a ground out by Ketel Marte. That was the only action in the bottom of the inning.
ATL 1 - AZ 0
Ray started the second inning by striking out Marcel Ozuna before he walked catcher, Tyler Flowers on four pitches. Adieny Hechavarria followed that up with a line drive single, bringing up Mike Soroka. Soroka attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but the slimmed down version of Ray showed some cat-like reflexes, pouncing on the bunt attempt and getting the out at third. Eduardo Escobar then gunned the ball across the diamond to Jake Lamb playing first, just in time to get Soroka for an inning-ending double play.
The Diamondbacks went three up and three down.
ATL 1 - AZ 0
Ray notches both a strikeout and another walk in a quiet half inning.
Starling Marte laced a double in the gap, but nothing else happened in the inning, Soroka notching two strikeouts.
ATL 1- AZ 0
With one out, Ozuna blistered the ball off the wall in right center, reaching an exit velocity of 107.5 mph. Flowers grounded out. This brought up the number eight hitter, Hechavarria. He was given the intentional free pass to get to the pitcher, Soroka. Rather than flailing ineptly at Ray’s heat, Soroka helped his own cause, lining a triple down the line with an exit velocity of 100.6 mph. Ozuna and Hechavarria scored. Inciarte then popped up to end the Braves’ half of the inning.
Ketel Marte was firstup in the bottom of the inning. It seemed that all that base running for Soroka might have caught up to him. Marte promptly crushed a double (EV 110.6) to lead things off. But, Soroka did some wiggling and managed to get off the hook, needing only six pitches to get out of the inning afterward.
ATL 3 - AZ 0
Ronald Acuna, Jr. had a lone single as the only real activity in the top of the inning.
Nick Ahmed led things off in the bottom of the fifth with a triple down the right field line. He was followed by Kole Calhoun. Calhoun wasted no time endearing himself to his hometown fans, bringing both Ahmed and himself home with a two-run home run just to the right of the pool area. Ray then grounded out. Starling Marte, David Peralta, and Ketel Marte all followed with singles to load the bases for Eduardo Escobar. Escobar was safe at first on a fielder’s choice to short which scored Starling Marte from third. Peralta took third on the play. Carson Kelly then smoked one down the line, only to end up with a ground out on a great play by Camargo.
ATL 3 - AZ 3
Things got a bit odd in the sixth inning. Robbie Ray walked Ozuna to lead things off. He then got a flyball out. However, it seems something happened to Ray on the pitch and he left the game. We are still awaiting word from Diamondbacks trainers as to the extent of Ray’s injury.
Yoan Lopez came in as injury relief and needed only two pitches to get out of the inning cleanly.
Nick Ahmed had a one-out single and stole second base, but the Diamondbacks were unable to make anything else happen in their half of the inning.
ATL 3 - AZ 3
Alex Young was brought on to pitch in the seventh inning and to face some of Atlanta’s leftys. He struck out Inciarte but then gave up a double to Albies. Freddie Freeman then flied out to right and Albies tagged up to third on the play. Acuna was given a free pass and that was the end of the day for Young. The Diamondbacks then brought in Archie Bradley in a non-save situation. On a 2-1 pitch to Camargo, Bradley uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Albies to score and Acuna to take second. Bradley then walked Camargo and the next batter as well to load the bases. Flowers then grounded out to Ahmed to end the Atlanta threat.
After the stretch and some sangria was poured and consumed, the Diamondbacks went three up and three down.
ATL 4 - AZ 3
Hechavarria led off the inning with a single and then took second on a ground out. That was the end of the day for Bradley and Andrew Chafin was brought in to pitch to face the left-handed top of the Atlanta order. Inciarte lined a single to Marte in center. An aggressive Hechavarria took third on the play, just beating Marte’s throw. This aggressive running paid off as Chafin too threw a wild pitch, moving the runners up 90 feet, scoring Hechavarria and putting Inciarte on second. They then elected to give Albies the free pass, bringing up Freeman. Freeman flied out to center. Inciarte tagged to third with no throw on the play. Acuna was up next. He singled, scoring Inciarte from third. Following the earlier script, Albies ran aggressively, testing the outfield arm of Calhoun this time and slid in safely to third just ahead of the throw. Camargo then ended the inning top of the inniing with a pop out.
Atlanta brought on Chris Martin to pitch. A one-out single by Lamb was the only noise in the Diamondbacks’ half of the inning.
ATL 6- AZ 3
Both teams went three up and three down in the ninth.
That ended things, the Braves taking the season opener. We are only one game into this simulated season and I am already beginning to wonder about Virtual Lovullo’s decision-making process. Still, it’s only one game. Maybe I am just being a bit harsh. But, starting Lamb over Christian Walker and Lovullo’s use of the bullpen seems a bit iffy to me.
After the game, word came down that Robbie Ray suffered a sprained ankle. He will be staying off of it for about three days before the team makes any decision on how severe it is. Currently, he is still expected to make his next start.
The Diamondbacks are now 0 - 1 on the season.