In this continuing series, I sim the 2020 season with Out of the Park 21 while playing as the Braves general manager. I meant to live-report the Sunday Game of the Week, but forgot to. Hey, I’m allowed to make mistakes.
Well, a 3-1 start isn’t the worst thing by any means. We continue our NL West road trip by heading over to San Diego for a three-game set with the Padres. San Diego is off a 3-1 start as well behind big production from Tommy Pham and Franchy Cordero, but mostly amazing starting pitching from Garrett Richards, Chris Paddack, Zach Davies, and Dinelson Lamet. We’ll get Richards and Paddack in this series, but first up, it’s Jacob Nix‘s season debut.
Nix missed most of 2019 due to injury but started nine games for the Padres in 2018. In other words, he’s not a complete newbie here. On the other side, 15-year vet Felix Hernandez makes his first major league appearance not in a Seattle Mariners uniform. The 2010 Cy Young Award winner is trying to stick in the game after struggles over the last few years in the AL West. We’ll give him a shot, but the leash isn’t long right now.
After this three-game set, we get a day off before our home opener against the Marlins on Friday. In the quark of scheduling, the Padres come to Atlanta for three games after the Marlins leave and that will be the last time we see San Diego unless we meet in October. Maybe they will be the team we beat in October. Remember…that’s our entire goal. Just advance for once!
Let’s dive into this week’s scores.
@SD: 5-4 LOSS (3-2)
L – F. Hernandez (0-1)
Well, that went pretty ugly from the start. Felix Hernandez retired just one more batter than the number of runs he gave up in an abbreviated two-inning stint. All five runs scored in the first with three of them coming on an Eric Hosmer homer. All in all, King Felix gave up three hits, walked three, and struck out two. The bullpen was impressive, logging six scoreless innings, but the offense couldn’t dig out of the early hole. Hernandez did help his cause with a second-inning double that scored Dansby Swanson, who also doubled in two runs in a three-run second. But from there, the Braves were only able to plate a run when Freddie Freeman doubled in Ozzie Albies in the seventh. Albies, by the way, had three hits and is now hitting .455. That’s behind Marcell Ozuna, whose two hits improved his average to .471.
@SD: 2-1 WIN (4-2)
W – M. Soroka (1-1), SV – W. Smith (2)
HR – J. Carmargo (3)
I expected Garrett Richards, I got Joey Lucchesi. He matched Mike Soroka pitch-for-pitch, heading into the bottom of the 5th with a 1-0 lead. That’s when Ronald Acuna Jr., who walked three times and stole his fourth base, scored on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly against Michael Baez. The run was charged to Lucchesi. Soroka continued, pitching seven strong innings with five hits, a run, three walks, and six K’s. He was still the pitcher of record when Johan Camargo led off the 8th with his team-leading third homer. After Chris Martin pitched a perfect 8th, Will Smith worked around a single to strike out two and nail down his second save.
@SD: 5-1 WIN (5-2)
W – M. Fried (1-0)
HR – E. Inciarte (1), F. Freeman (1), R. Acuna Jr. (1)
It was all about the power for us as we launched three bombs to take the series victory. In the fifth, Ender Inciarte broke up a scoreless tie with his first homer. Max Fried was on base and he finished the day with a pair of hits – exactly how many he surrendered. In the 8th, with the score 2-1, Freddie Freeman launched a homer, also his first. Inciarte jogged home ahead of him to increase the lead to 4-1. Not to be left out, the next batter, Ronald Acuna Jr., smacked his first dong of the year as well. That was more enough insurance for Fried, who gave up two singles, a pair of walks, and the one run over seven innings. He added a handful of strikeouts. Grant Dayton and Mark Melancon split the remaining two innings, sending the Padres to a series defeat.
vs. MIA: 10-2 WIN (6-2)
W – M. Foltynewicz (1-0)
HR – O. Albies (2), R. Acuna Jr. (2)
It doesn’t matter what year it is, Jose Urena and the Braves tend to result in a hit batter and a long Ronald Acuna Jr. homer. In the third, Ozzie Albies drew first blood with a two-run shot. Acuna then led off the fourth with a homer of his own, sending Urena rocking. He gave up three more singles, one by Travis d’Arnaud that scored Johan Camargo, before walking Ender Inciarte with two outs. to load them. He then nailed Albies on the first pitch, scoring Inciarte and ending his day there. No ejections surprisingly.
Atlanta continued to smack around Marlins pitching, scoring five more off the bullpen. Acuna finished with three hits while Inciarte, Albies, and Camaro all had two. The latter also tripled for the first time this season. It was more than enough support for Foltynewicz, who gave up one hit, walked four, and struck out eight over 6.1 innings. Both runs were charged to him, though the second one scored after Shane Greene replaced him.
vs. MIA: 3-2 LOSS (6-3)
L – K. Wright (1-1)
All in all, it was a quality start by Kyle Wright. He gave up six hits, three runs, and a walk in 6.1 innings. He also struck out six. But Sandy Alcantara was a bit better and while Atlanta had two hits in the ninth, they couldn’t come up with the equalizer. The defense didn’t help Wright either as the Braves committed three infield errors, leading to one of the runs charged to Wright being unearned. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Marcell Ozuna finished with two hits apiece.
vs. MIA: 7-5 LOSS in 10 innings (6-4)
L – L. Jackson (0-1)
Ugh. The high-priced bullpen let us down in this one. After Felix Hernandez went seven and handed a 5-3 game to the pen, we felt good about our chances. Chris Martin had another dominant inning, setting the stage for Will Smith. But he walked two and hit a batter. With two outs, gave up a game-tying double to Isan Diaz. Luke Jackson stranded a pair of runners after replacing Smith but then gave up a two-run homer to Corey Dickerson in the 10th.
It wiped out a decent day at the plate, though not a great one since we left eight on base. Johan Camargo doubled twice and singled once, driving in three and becoming the first Brave to double-digit RBI. Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna each had two hits as well. Again, Hernandez pitched much better this time – going seven innings, allowing five hits, the three runs, and a walk. He K’d four and gave up a homer.
Not much you can tell about the first ten games of the year, but we left some wins out there that we should have had. Overall, though, we are tied in the NL in runs scored and tied for fifth in runs allowed with a +21 scoring differential. We open a three-game set with the Padres 2.5 games behind the Nationals for the top spot in the division.