Gentlemen: let’s broaden our minds.
All spring you heard about pitchers throwing “simulated games.” Today Amalie Benjamin reports that Clay Buchholz, who won’t get his normal turn in the rotation for a while, is throwing a simulated game. So, just what is a “simulated game?”
A lot of fun from the sound of it. Pitchers usually face two or three volunteer hitters from their own team (today Buchholz is facing Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida and Jason Veritek). Hitters take their cuts against the pitcher’s full speed pitches with someone — often the catcher — calling balls and strikes. There are no fielders, however. A coach observing the game calls out the result of any given batted ball. A hot shot in the gap is a double. A grounder to where the shortstop would likely be standing is an out, etc.
If the hitter reaches safely the pitcher assumes the stretch and a ghost runner takes the base.* Once the pitcher retires the side he sits down and either takes a break long enough to approximate his own team’s half inning or, in some instances, another pitcher or a coach throws to the same three hitters and simulates the results. The whole thing usually ends when the desired pitch count for the simulated game is reached. Since Buchholz is on the Red Sox, though, it probably takes three hours and forty-eight minutes.
I saw a couple of simulated games in spring training and they looked like a lot of fun. Lots of good-natured trash talk between the pitcher and whoever was calling balls and strikes. Lots of pitchers claiming that hard hit balls were really outs due to amazingly acrobatic plays by their invisible defense. Basically, it sounds a lot like the sandlot games we used to play when we were little and couldn’t find enough kids to make full teams. I bet someone could do well setting up a simulated baseball league in which guys like me who think they can pitch a little go head-to-head (note: I can’t pitch, even a little).
Anyway, the more you know.
*Note: unlike my brother’s amazingly swift ghost runners during the
backyard games of our youth, simulated game ghost runners can’t score
from first on an infield single. Not that I’m still angry about it or
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.