The Show Must Go On: Eliminated
To get caught up on what we're doing here, you can check out the introductory post in the series for an explanation of the premise and setup. But the quick version is this: We're playing a progressive simulated Twins season on MLB The Show 20 on PS4, and y'all are helping guide the ship. In each installment I'll update you on what's happened since the last, and put at least one key decision up for vote.
LATEST RESULTS (1-3)
- ALDS Game 1: L 3-2 (Sano 0-4, 4 K)
- ALDS Game 2: L 3-1 (Sano, Kepler, Cruz: 0-10)
- ALDS Game 3: W 11-5 (Cruz 3-6, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
- ALDS Game 4: L 9-5 (Odorizzi & Wood: 5 IP, 9 ER)
We fell in four games to the Rays. Although our Twins did win Game 3 to end an 18-game postseason losing streak, they still went pretty quietly in this simulated ALDS, with a familiar breakdown in the offensive performance and execution that carried them through the regular season. And beyond their own self-created issues, there was the Eddie Factor. I'll provide game-by-game recaps below but suffice to say our former left fielder made us pay for the deadline deal that sent him to Tampa for Blake Snell.
Elsewhere in the AL, Cleveland beat Boston in the Wild Card Game and then swept the Angels in the ALDS, so it'll be Cleveland vs. Tampa in the ALCS. Both NLCS series are tied 2-2 on this date in the sim (10/7/20).
ALDS SERIES RECAP
GAME 1: RAYS 3, TWINS 2
On a 44-degree evening in Minneapolis, the Rays and Twins engaged in a tightly contested pitcher's duel. Jose Berrios had his good stuff, but so did Charlie Morton. Both starters struck out eight batters over five-plus innings, but also ran up big pitch counts. After each had left in the sixth, Tampa led 2-1. The bullpens took over and put up zeroes, and Trevor May was looking particularly nasty, striking out four straight before he left a curveball over the plate against Eddie Rosario with two outs in the top of the eighth. Rosario put it on the overhang in right field, and his insurance run – putting Tampa ahead 3-1 – proved crucial as the Twins rallied for a one in the bottom of the ninth but couldn't get another.
Rosario earned the Player of the Game nod. Berrios was tagged with a loss for the first time since May. Miguel Sano went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts out of the cleanup spot, helping negate a four-hit game for Luis Arraez (whose .331 average in the regular season ranked second only to Mike Trout in the AL).
Game 2: RAYS 3, TWINS 1
My cynical blurb in the series preview turned out to be deadly accurate: Kenta Maeda, an 18-game winner and All-Star, battled through six erratic innings (5 H, 5 BB, 4 K, 3 R, 2 ER) while 22-year-old rookie Jordan Balazovic sliced the Twins lineup to pieces: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. You can't make it up.
Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers combined for three shutout innings behind Maeda but the Twins couldn't even muster a base runner in two innings against Tampa's bullpen. Once again the talent-laden Minnesota offense completely shut down on the biggest stage. Sano came up empty again in the cleanup spot (0-for-4 with 2 Ks), while the trio behind him – Donaldson, Kepler, Cruz – went 1-for-10.
Having lost both games at home, the Twins headed to Tampa staring down elimination, and looking to their own deadline pickup to salvage the season.
Game 3: TWINS 11, RAYS 5
Blake Snell was hardly spectacular in this one (6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 9 K) but he gave the Twins everything they needed as their bats FINALLY awakened. The Bomba Squad made it rain on Tropicana with 11 runs on 16 hits, breaking loose with a three-run seventh and five-run eighth.
Arraez went 4-for-6, his second four-hit game of the series. Cruz went 3-for-5 with two homers and six RBIs. Kepler, Garver and Buxton each had multiple hits. Sano ... went 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts.
Having finally gotten the monkey off their back, the Twins had a chance to take one more in Tampa and bring the series back to Target Field for Game 5.
Game 4: RAYS 9, TWINS 5
Sadly, this is where it ended. In the series preview article, I polled readers to see who you wanted to start in Game 4. I suspect more people would've opted for Berrios on short rest if they knew we'd be up against elimination, but alas, that was a difficult caveat to factor in. Jake Odorizzi beat out Alex Wood for the most votes, so he got the nod, and it went pretty disastrously.
The Rays jumped all over Odorizzi for four runs in the first inning, including a three-run homer from Rosario. With Wood warming up in the pen, Odorizzi went out for the second but was jumped on again. We pulled him and turned to Wood, who quickly gave up a couple hits followed by a devastating three-run homer off the bat of – you guessed it – Rosario. Through two innings Eddie had two jacks and six RBIs.
By the end of the second it was already 9-1 Rays. The Twins mounted a couple humble threats and scratched across four more runs, with Marwin Gonzalez having himself a nice day (3-for-4, two runs, two RBIs) but there was no digging out of this hole.
As we put a bow on it:
Our top performer in the series (same as all year long): Luis Arraez, who went 10-for-18 with four runs scored and only one strikeout in the series.
Our biggest laggard: Miguel Sano, who went 1-for-17 with nine strikeouts after leading the club in home runs (36) and RBIs (100) during the regular season.
And the ALDS MVP easily goes to Eddie Rosario, who hit three key home runs for the Rays in the series, including two in a six-RBI Game 4 outburst that sent his former team packing.
Thanks to all who've followed along and interacted throughout this virtual season. It's been a lot more enjoyable than I expected, and I hope it gave some of you a fun diversion during baseball's strange absence over these past several months. Collectively, we made a bunch of decisions. Some helped our team get over the hump with a second straight division title, others came back to haunt us. So goes baseball, and life.
I'll check in once more with a final simulated 2020 season update – sharing the rest of the postseason results and reflecting on some takeaways from this exercise – then I'll most likely sunset the series as we turn our attention back to real baseball.
With that said, if things happen to unravel with MLB's plan to return for a 2020 season, I fully reserve the right to fire this thing back up in offseason mode.
Part 1: We Can Build This Thing Together (0-0)
Part 2: 10 Games In, 6 Games Back (4-6)
Part 3: Roaring Back (11-9)
Part 4: Over the Hill (17-13)
Part 5: Checking In at the Quarter Point (23-17)
Part 6: Rising Power (30-20)
Part 7: First Place! (Barely) (34-26)
Part 8: Drafting and Dropping (38-32)
Part 9: Cruz Control (45-35)
Part 10: Pulling Ahead (52-38)
Part 11: Bashing into the All-Star Break (58-40)
Part 12: Deadline Decisions (62-46)
Part 13: Inauspicious Debuts (66-52)
Part 14: Treading Water as the Clock Ticks (71-57)
Part 15: Stretch Race & September Call-Ups (78-59)
Part 16: Dancing for the Division (84-63)
Part 17: Down to the Wire (90-66)
Part 18: Game 163 (94-68)
Part 19: Twins Walk Off Game 163 (95-68)
Part 20: ALDS Preview – Twins vs. Rays
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