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Simulating the Dodgers’ 2020 season: Games 27 and 28 vs. Pirates

After losing the opener, we finish our three-game series against the Pirates with a doubleheader in Out of the Park Baseball 21.

MLB: FEB 20 Los Angeles Dodgers Photo Day Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is the 22nd installment of an ongoing series, where my dad and I will simulate each game on the Dodgers schedule until real Dodger baseball returns. Catch up on the rest of the series here! Thanks all for the comments and support!

Welcome back! Last time out, we lost a rough opener to the Pirates, put Chris Taylor into the lineup in left moving forward, and promoted Keibert Ruiz to AAA Oklahoma City.

In the first one, it will be Walker Buehler (1-2, 2.05 ERA) against Joe Musgrove (3-0, 4.31 ERA). Game two will feature David Price (4-1, 3.45 ERA) against Mitch Keller (0-2, 4.03 ERA).

It’s time for the games! Watch it here or scroll below to find out what happened. If you want to be notified when we go live with future simulations and chime in with your live feedback and/or input on managerial decisions, follow me on Twitch!

After the tragic, strikeout-filled loss in game one of this series, we were desperately hoping to turn things around in the last two games against the Pirates, a team whose payroll is literally 27.6% of ours. The combined salaries of Clayton Kershaw and Mookie Betts is higher than that of the entire Pirates roster.

If you’re sensing some frustration and a general feeling of foreboding, congrats! Not only did we lose the second game of this series, we got absolutely beat down. The final score may have only been 3-0, but Walker Buehler got hit around (eight hits, three earned runs in five innings) and Joe Musgrove allowed only two hits in eight shutout innings.

The only two hits of the day for the Dodgers: a Mookie Betts lead-off double in the top of the fourth, and a pinch hit Matt Beaty single in the top of the sixth. That’s it!

One bit of good news, besides Betts and Beaty’s recent positive production: Jimmy Nelson made his Dodger debut, pitching two solid innings in relief of Buehler.

Here’s the box score:

With the series lost and only our pride left to play for, the third and final game of the series had the offense we were looking for in the first two games, but compressed into the first three innings.

In the top of the first, Betts led off with a walk, and scored on a Corey Seager double. Seager advanced to third on a Cody Bellinger ground out, and scored two batters later on a Max Muncy single.

Austin Barnes led off the top of the second with a double, eventually scoring later on a David Price sac fly (his first RBI as a Dodger — we’re sending the ball to Cooperstown). The Pirates brought one back in the bottom of the second on a Bryan Reynolds home run to make it 3-1, but the Dodgers really broke things open in the top of the third.

Corey Seager led off the inning with a home run, and Bellinger, Turner and Muncy hit a single, double and single respectively, scoring Bellinger and knocking starter Mitch Keller out of the game. Turner scored two batters later on a groundout by Barnes, and the Dodgers left the half inning leading 6-1.

From there, both Price and the Pirates bullpen settled into grooves. Price ended up pitching eight innings, only giving up that one run, with eight strikeouts against six hits and one walk. Brandon Waddell pitch 3 23 scoreless innings for the pirates, while Rob Erlin and Blake Weiman combined for 2 13 more.

The trouble, once again, came in the ninth. With a 6-1 lead, my dad had the great idea to bring in Kenley Jansen. If you’ve been following this series, you know Jansen has struggled quite a bit recently, blowing both of his last two save opportunities. This was a low stakes opportunity for him to find his groove again, right?

Wrong. Six batters, four hits and two runs later, the score was 6-3 with the tying run up to bat. We had to take Jansen out of the game (now with an ERA of 6.10) and bring in Brusdar Graterol, who has yet to lead us wrong. It took him all of one pitch to get out of the jam, forcing Kevin Newman to ground out to second and earning his second save of the year in the 6-3 Dodgers win.

Here’s the box score:

We’re thinking of a few ways to improve the lineup (we slightly tinkered with it in the two games today, moving around Muncy and Lux) and you should expect to see Kiké Hernández give Gavin Lux a day off, as well as more Austin Barnes in the near future. We’re also keeping an eye on Keibert Ruiz in AAA — he’s played in two games so far and is 4-for-5 at the plate.

Next time, we have our first interleague action of the year, as the Dodgers host the Twins in a quick two-game home stand. First up: Julio Urias (2-1, 2.67 ERA) up against old friend Kenta Maeda (1-3, 3.38 ERA). See you then!