The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox are in the midst of a six-game road trip to finish out the month of April, but they have not gotten off to the start for which they were looking. After taking two of three against the Blue Jays to finish their home stand, Boston started their three-game set in Minnesota with two straight losses and were on the verge of a sweep on Sunday. They had Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound while the Twins countered with José Berríos. Note, if you watch the video above, that I refer to a pitcher’s duel between these two in 2019, that was incorrect. That was Porcello, not Rodriguez. My bad!
The Red Sox were looking to get a little bit of early offense against Berríos, and they started off like they’ve started many games this season: With Andrew Benintendi trying to drop a bunt single. Fake Benintendi is obsessed with this. It did work out, to be fair, and he got on to lead off the inning. He’d move up to second on a ground ball, too, but that’s as far as he’d go.
After Rodriguez started his outing on the right foot with a perfect first, the Red Sox once again got the leadoff man — something they’d do in each of the first four frames — this time on an Alex Verdugo base hit. He, too, would move up to second thanks to a weirdly timed sacrifice bunt from Christian Vázquez. (These Fake Sox love bunting for singles, but they never really drop sacrifice bunts, much less in the second inning.) After Willians Astudillo mishandled a little tapper in front of the plate, Verdugo would come in to score on a passed ball. It was a tough inning for the Twins catcher and a 1-0 lead for the Red Sox.
Rodriguez, then, was looking to keep that lead in tact and carry some momentum for his struggling team. This was a tough part of the lineup with Miguel Sanó, Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson, though, as all three like to hit against southpaws. Rodriguez got two outs to start the frame, but Donaldson wasn’t going to make it easy. The third baseman absolutely murdered a baseball, crushing it 453 feet out to left-center field for the solo homer, and the Red Sox lead was gone just about as quickly as it had come.
It was still a 1-1 game heading into the fourth when the Red Sox had their fourth straight inning of having the leadoff man reach. This time it was Xander Bogaerts on a walk, and with one out he’d swipe second base. The shortstop then moved over to third base on a deep fly ball, leaving it up to Mitch Moreland to get him home. It’s been a tough season for Moreland, but he came through here with a base hit into right field to bring home the run and give the Red Sox another one-run lead.
Rodriguez had another chance to protect the lead, and once again he was being challenged by that same trio that was due up in the second when he coughed up the lead. The only difference with this result was that it came more quickly. In fact, it was as quickly as possible. On the very first pitch of the inning, Miguel Sanó hit a line drive the other way that got caught in the windstream blowing out to right field and made it just up and over the wall down the right field line. It wasn’t as far as Donaldson’s, but it counted the same and the Twins once again tied the game up.
So, from here we headed to the sixth, and the game was still knotted up at two. J.D. Martinez kicked this inning off with a double into the right field corner, and Bogaerts quickly followed that up with a single. Just like that, there were runners on the corners with nobody out. Verdugo couldn’t get another hit, but his ground ball did score a run and was hit too softly for anything other than the out at first base. Bogaerts would then move over to third on a fly out, and before Moreland had a chance to knock him in new pitcher Trevor May threw a wild pitch and the shortstop came in to score the second run of the inning. Boston would get two more baserunners, but couldn’t add to their 4-2 lead.
This time, Rodriguez was able to hold on to the lead. In fact, he was pretty much lights out after that fourth inning. He did give up two runners in the fifth, but he struck out the side in the sixth, allowed just a double in the seventh, just a single in the eighth and tossed a perfect ninth. So, it was a complete game for the lefty as he struck out nine and didn’t walk anybody. The offense, meanwhile, did manage to tack on three more runs, too, thanks to another RBI single from Moreland, a Bogaerts sacrifice fly and an RBI base hit from Verdugo.
So, it was a 7-2 victory as Boston avoided the sweep and pushed their record to 17-13. With a Yankees loss, the Sox are back within a half-game in the division. After the game, Chaim Bloom lost his mind a bit. In a truly absurd trade that, frankly, is terrible for the Red Sox, Boston acquired Ken Giles from the Blue Jays for — you may think you’re ready for this but you’re not — Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Brayan Bello, Nick Decker and Nicholas Northcut. If this was real life we would rightfully kill the Red Sox. However, since this is just a one-year simulation it actually is good for Boston because this fake world will end after the season. Fake Bloom doesn’t know that, though, and he should go take a timeout in the corner.
Meanwhile, around the league, José Altuve and Keston Hiura were players of the week, while Boston moved down to number ten on the Power Rankings. Also, Manny Machado had a three-homer game for the Padres. Below, since it’s Sunday, you can see the full league-wide standings as well as full stats for all Red Sox players. Before that, though, down on the farm César Puello homered for a second straight day in a PawSox win, Jarren Duran homered in a blowout win for Portland, Casas homered in a loss in what was ultimately his final game with the Red Sox organization, and Tyler Dearden homered in a Greenville victory.
(I don’t know why Heath Hembree shows up in the box score below. He did not pitch.)