First off - HAPPY OPENING DAY~!
And now, on to the post.
A couple years ago I saw a copy of Strat-o-Matic baseball at a local hobby store. Somehow, despite being both a huge fan of baseball and a huge fan of board games I had never owned a copy of the game as a kid. Since this version had the 2008 Brewers team that made the playoffs I figured it must be fate. I bought the game, and immediately I saw why it has inspired such a loyal following for 50 years!
I decided it would be fun to incorporate the game with my other favorite hobby here on the blog, since it's all a celebration of the great game of baseball! So here's the deal - I bought the newest set of Strat-o-Matic cards, and I plan to pick one Brewers game per week and play it out in advance using the actual starting pitchers and lineups (or as close as I can get with what I have). By the end of the year we'll see just how true to life this game is. If this idea proves to be popular, maybe I'll take some requests to use other teams!
Last night I played out today's Opening Day matchup, pitting Yovani Gallardo and the Crew versus Edinson Volquez and the Reds. Here are the game highlights:
The Brewers got off to a fast start. Rickie Weeks led off with a double, and after a Carlos Gomez strikeout Ryan Braun homered in his first at-bat of the season, giving Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.
Jay Bruce tripled with one out, however the Reds failed to get the runner home. Still 2-0 Brewers.
Prince Fielder led off the inning with a walk, and he moved to third on a ringing double by Casey McGehee. Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a productive out, bringing in Fielder on a groundout to the first baseman. Mark Kotsay (starting in place of the injured Corey Hart) came through with an RBI single, increasing the Brewers lead to 4-0.
Yovani Gallardo was absolutely dealing to start the game, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. However that came to a halt in the form of a booming solo home run from reigning National League MVP Joey Votto. 4-1, Brewers still in the lead.
Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce banged back-to-back doubles, cutting the lead to 4-2.
Ryan Braun led off with a walk, and advanced to second on a groundout by the Prince. With 2 outs, Betancourt came through with a clutch single, scoring Braun from second. Brewers 5, Reds 2.
The Reds offense came to life in the bottom of the 8th. Brandon Phillips got things going with a single, and after a Drew Stubbs strikeout, Votto walked to put runners on first and second. Scott Rolen came up with his second double of the game, scoring Phillips, with Votto forced to hold at third. An RBI groundout from Jay Bruce cut the Brewers lead down to a single run, and the tying run stood at third in the form of Rolen. At this point Milwaukee called on closer John Axford to put out the fire, and he came through with a huge strikeout of Jonny Gomes to end the rally. Brewers 5, Reds 4.
After the Brewers failed to bring in an insurance run in the top half, Axford entered the 9th still protecting a 1-run lead. Trouble started immediately, with Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan leading off with a double. Fortune than smiled on the Crew, as Paul Janish popped up his sacrifice bunt attempt, leaving Hanigan at second. Pinch hitter Miguel Cairo then moved him to third with a groundout to Weeks. With the tying run 90 feet away, lead off man Phillips stepped to the plate. He promptly ripped a line drive that was CAUGHT by Casey McGehee, and the Brewers hung on for a 5-4 victory! (It was actually quite dramatic, Phillips' result required a second die roll where I could see it was either gonna be tie game or game over).
Final Box Score:
For the Brewers - 5 Runs on 7 Hits, no Errors, and 7 Left on Base
For the Reds - 4 Runs on 7 Hits, 1 Error, and 6 Left on Base.
Winning Pitcher - Gallardo (6 IP, 2 Earned Runs, 4 Hits, 2 Walks, 6 K's)
Losing Pitcher - Volquez (7 IP, 4 Earned Runs, 6 Hits, 3 Walks, 11 K's)
Save - Axford (1 1/3 IP, 1 Hit, 1 K)
Offensive Star: Ryan Braun - 2 for 4 with a Walk, a HR, 2 RBIs, and 2 Runs scored
Offensive Goat: Jonny Gomes took home the sombrero, going 0 for 4 with 4 Strikeouts
I can only hope the real game this afternoon works out so well!
Previous Trivia Question:
In July 1993, Ken Griffey Jr. tied a big league record by homering in 8 consecutive games. What other 2 players also accomplished that feat? (hint: one of them just became the manager of a major league team)
Answer - Don Mattingly (in July 1987 with the Yankees) and Dale Long (in May 1956 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates)
Today's Trivia Question:
What Hall of Fame pitcher tossed the only Opening Day no-hitter in baseball history?