With sports on pause as the world tries to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are still ways to fill the void created by the lack of games. In order to provide a distraction from the much more serious things going on in the world, Sportsnet’s Blue Jays radio broadcaster Mike Wilner will be simulating each scheduled Blue Jays game in what was supposed to be the 2020 season. The simulation is created using Dynasty League Baseball, a cards-and-dice tabletop (and online) simulation game.
The afternoon starts off very well for the Blue Jays prize lefty, as Ryu strikes out Andrew Benintendi, the first batter of the new season, part of a three-up, three-down first inning. Ryu would go on to retire 10 of the first 11 batters he faces, allowing only a second-inning double to Christian Vazquez that’s stranded right there.
The Blue Jays get a leadoff single from Bo Bichette in the first inning, but can’t cash him. The high drama strikes in the second when, with two out and a man on first, Rowdy Tellez belts a 410-foot bomb to straightaway centre field. Sox centrefielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. gets on his horse though, and scales the 10-foot wall to take a home run away from the Jays’ DH, keeping the score 0-0.
Boston hits the scoreboard first in the top of the fourth. Ryu’s run of 10 of 11 hitters retired ends when he issues a one-out walk to J.D. Martinez. After a Xander Bogaerts fly out, Michael Chavis crushes a ball that no outfielder was bringing back. The home run puts the Red Sox on top 2-0.
The visitors would add another run in the fifth. Kevin Pillar (yes, he’s starting in right field for the Red Sox) leads off with a double and is cashed by Benintendi’s two-out two-bagger.
All the while, the Blue Jays struggle to get anything going against Boston’s by-default Opening Day starter. Through the first six innings, the Jays manage just two Bichette singles and a pair of walks, failing to move a single runner past second base and striking out 11 times. Every single Jays hitter strikes out at least once, with Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. whiffing twice each.
Ryu comes back out for the seventh, but issues a single and a walk and is pulled, replaced by another new acquisition, Anthony Bass, a right-hander who had tremendous success against left-handed hitters in 2019, holding them to a .165/.221/.304 line.
Randal Grichuk begins the bottom of the seventh with a single, becoming the first Blue Jay other than Bichette with a base hit, but after a Travis Shaw fly out, he’s erased on a double-play grounder off the bat of Tellez.
An add-on run for the Red Sox comes off Wilmer Font in the top of the 8th. The righty, who we should be seeing a lot less as an opener this season thanks to the Blue Jays’ additional starting depth, gets two quick outs but then allows back-to-back doubles to Mitch Moreland, pinch-hitting for Chavis, and Vazquez, putting the Sox up 4-0.
Rodriguez does not come out for the eighth, the Red Sox deciding to leave well enough alone after the southpaw delivers seven innings of three-hit shutout with two walks and eleven strikeouts. Righty Ryan Brasier comes out of the bullpen, prompting a move to pinch-hit Reese McGuire for Danny Jansen. The move works, as McGuire delivers a double, and after Bichette strikes out, Biggio draws a walk to move the tying run into the on-deck circle.
With the Blue Jays’ 3-4 hitters coming up, Boston goes to set-up man Matt Barnes and the hard-throwing righty is more than up to the task, striking out both Gurriel Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to thwart the home side’s best chance to score since the second inning.
Font works his way around a couple of walks to put up a zero in the top of the ninth and Marcus Walden comes out to finish it up, allowing nothing but a Grichuk single in the bottom of the ninth, ending the game with back-to-back ground ball outs off the bats of Shaw and Tellez.
The Blue Jays just couldn’t get the offence going in the simulated opener, shut out by the Red Sox 4-0.
|Bradley, Jr. CF||2||0||0||0||2||0||2|
|a – doubled for Chavis in 8th|
|2B: Benintendi, Martinez, Moreland, Pillar, Vazquez 2.|
|Team RISP: 2-for-15|
|Team LOB: 8|
|Gurriel, Jr. LF||4||0||0||0||0||3||5|
|Guerrero, Jr. 3B||4||0||0||0||0||2||5|
|b – doubled for Jansen in 8th|
|Team RISP: 0-for-6|
|Team LOB: 8|