The Brewers would have won today, if Opening Day had been held as planned at Miller Park.
At least that’s according to MLB The Show 20.
With no actual baseball this afternoon, we decided to simulate the pageantry and action of Opening Day and streamed the whole thing live on Twitch with Matt Vasgersian, Dan Plesac and Mark DeRosa on the call.
You can watch the whole thing here, but since we’re all looking for something to write about at this point, here’s your Fake Game Recap.
It’s too soon to say the Opening Day Curse has come for Brandon Woodruff, but the new Brewers ace struggle for much of the afternoon against the Cubs’ quality lineup. After laboring a bit through the first inning, Woodruff gave up a leadoff home run to Anthony Rizzo in the top of the 2nd inning to give the Cubs an early 1-0 lead.
Woodruff was able to get through the rest of the inning unscathed, though, and the Brewers’ bats picked him up in a big way in the bottom half of the inning.
After going down in order against Kyle Hendricks in the 1st inning, the Brewers batted around in the 2nd, sending 10 men to the plate and scoring 5 runs. Keston Hiura started it with a solid leadoff single, before a throwing error by Kris Bryant on what should have been an easy double play allowed Omar Narvaez to reach safely. Avi Garcia then singled to left field, and a misplay by Kyle Schwarber allowe Hiura to score to tie the game.
An RBI groundout by Eric Sogard gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead before Justin Smoak dropped his first #SmoakBomb of the season into the visiting bullpen, on a high flyball that was just out of reach of Jason Heyward at the wall.
Lorenzo Cain kept things going with a 2-out single before stealing second base, allowing Brock Holt to drive him in with a single up the middle to make it 5-1.
Woodruff continued to struggle in the third, working himself into a bases loaded jame with only one out. He was able to fight back to strike out Rizzo reaching on a fastball out of the zone, though, and got Schwarber to ground out to second base to end the threat with no runs scored. Clutch hitting still appears to be a problem for the Northside Nine.
He’d give up another home run in the 4th inning, though, this time a solo shot by new addition Jason Kipnis, and despite a 6-2 lead after a Holt RBI double to drive in Cain in the top of the 5th, couldn’t get through his half of the inning to keep himself in line for the win. Woodruff was chased from the game after 4+ innings thanks to a leadoff double by Heyward (one of 3 hits the Cubs’ right fielder had against Woodruff on the afternoon) and an infield hit by Bryant.
Craig Counsell made his first potentially questionable bullpen move of the year, going to unproven rookie Zack Brown in a big spot and the heart of the Cubs’ order threatening. But the former Minor League Pitcher of the Year stepped up on Opening Day, limiting the damage to a sac fly from Willson Contreras before getting an inning-ending double play from Rizzo to hold the score at 6-3. That short outing was enough for the official scorer to give him the win.
The Cubs would threaten multiple times against the Brewers’ bullpen, but Milwaukee’s relief corps was able to hold up when they needed to. Brent Suter allowed two base runners during his 6th inning, but was able to get Javier Baez to fly out in foul territory in right field to end that threat with no runs scored. Ray Black took the ball in the 7th inning and walked Bryant before giving up a chopper of an infield hit to Contreras.
That led Counsell to bring in Alex Claudio to face Rizzo with two on and one out, and the much-maligned lefty came through by getting the Cubs’ first baseman to ground into his second double play in as many at-bats to end the inning.
From there, a suddenly healthy Corey Knebel made his first appearance in more than a year and after shaking off the rust early in his appearance, looked like the Knebel of old, striking out Kipnis with a high fastball to end a 9-pitch battle with Schwarber in scoring position, then freezing pinch-hitter Victor Caratini looking with a beautiful curveball to end the inning.
Josh Hader came in for the 9th inning and slammed the door shut with a 1-2-3 outing, using his slider to fool Javy Baez into popping out in front of home plate and getting Heyward to ground out weakly. After falling behind Bryant 2-0, though, he went back to the fastball, ultimately getting the former MVP swinging with the high heat to end the game.
Cain ended up being named the game’s MVP with a hit, a walk, two stolen bases and two runs scored. Christian Yelich did not have a good day, potentially showing some rust by striking out looking twice on pitches he’d normally take the other way and letting a couple of balls drop in front of him in right field. We’ll likely see Counsell stick to his word and move Yelich to left field going forward after a defensive performance like that.
The important thing, though, is starting the year off 1-0 and getting the first win out of the way. Here’s to looking forward to another 99 or so this year, right?