In case you missed it yesterday, Manchester Ink Link is following in the footsteps of Baseball Reference, The Athletic, SB Nation and probably other bored sports reporters and simulating the 2020 New Hampshire Fisher Cats season through the magic of Out of the Park Baseball 2021.
So, without further ado, here are game recaps from the Fisher Cats’ first simulated week, with all information and player quotes coming from the OOTP engine.
Thursday, April 9 – Reading 3, New Hampshire 1
READING, PENN. – Ryan Borucki had six strong innings, but his fielding error in the third proved to be the difference, with two unearned runs later coming in following his fielding error off a sharp grounder back to the mound by Arquimedes Gamboa.
The Fightin’ Phils added another run in the fourth with Nick Maton’s triple bringing home Jose Pujols.
Borucki (0-1) scattered five hits and a walk while striking out seven. Reading’s Anthony Medina (1-0) also allowed five hits, striking out six and walking two over 5 2/3 innings of work on the way to earning the win.
New Hampshire’s run came off a fifth-inning homer over the right field fence by Cullen Large.
Large had two of New Hampshire’s four hits, also collecting a double in the second.
Tristan Archer and Brett Cecil each had an inning of relief for New Hampshire in the loss.
Off the field, a pre-game concert featuring Pennsylvania’s own Uptown Band and fleece blanket giveaway can’t make up for clear, 57-degree weather as First Energy Stadium reports 3,817 fans in attendance for the 7:10 p.m. start. That was a significant dip from their home opener last year, a late matinee with 75 degree weather at first pitch.
Friday, April 10 – Reading, 7, New Hampshire 4
READING, PENN. – The Fisher Cats lose their second straight, falling 7-4 to Reading.
Jose Pujols emerged as the hero in this contest, coming to bat with a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the eighth and the bases loaded.
His two-strike double to deep left center brought home Darick Hall and Alec Bohm, enough for the win.
“We’ll kick back tonight, then get set for the next one,” Pujols said after the game.
New Hampshire reliever Chandler Shepard (0-1) allowed another run before the inning was done, and J.D. Hammer shut down the Fisher Cats in order for his second save in as many days.
Fisher Cats starter Anthony Kay gave up eight hits and a walk in seven innings of work, striking out six and allowing a pair of Reading home runs. At the plate, Cullen Large grabbed a pair of hits for the second-straight game, with Josh Palacios and Brock Lundquist adding doubles.
Ben Revere also added a pair of hits in his Fisher Cats debut.
Earlier in the day, Revere signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays, appearing in eight games last year with Triple-A Buffalo. Revere turns 32 next month and has appeared at the major league level in parts of eight seasons with the Twins, Phillies, Blue Jays and Angels, leading the National League in hits (184) in 2014.
In the real world, he was released by the Blue Jays organization last May and remains as a free agent.
To make room for his arrival, catcher Mike Alescio was sent down to Short Season-A Vancouver, a shift that will leave Alescio without any possibly of playing time for several months, a gap that could push him back to his real-world paralegal job in New Jersey.
The Fisher Cats also saw outfielder Griffin Conine sent back to Advanced-A Dunedin in exchange for starting pitcher Chase Whitley. In the real world, Whitley has been out of baseball since 2018, with 167 2/3 innings of major league work resulting in just under replacement level WAR.
Saturday, April 11 – Reading 4, New Hampshire 2
READING, PENN. – New Hampshire blew an early lead to give the FIghtin’ Phils an opening series sweep.
The strong performance through the first five innings for New Hampshire hurler Andrew Sopko fell apart in the sixth, with Grenny Cumana’s one-out groundball double setting the stage for the collapse.
Alec Bohm’s line drive double to deep left brought home Cumana on the next at-bat and Nick Maton’s triple to right-center later in the inning brought Bohm home as well.
Sopko finished the sixth, concluding the day with five hits and a walk while striking out four.
Louis Coleman (0-1) gave up Reading’s other two runs in the seventh with Sean Wymer striking out two in the eighth for what was his Fisher Cats debut.
At the plate, Ben Revere and Kevin Smith had doubles and Josh Palacios went deep in the third off Reading starter Enyel De Los Santos.
Cullen Large went 1-for-4 to grow his hitting streak to three games.
Prior to the game, the Blue Jays demoted Demi Orimoloye to Advanced-A Dunedin in exchange for Alfredo Silverio, who was signed to a minor league contract earlier in the day.
Silverio signed as a 15-year-old with the Dodgers organization in 2003, but never made it to the show, getting as far as Triple-A in 2014. His last professional appearance was in the non-affiliated Atlantic League in 2018.
Monday, April 13 – New Hampshire 9, Trenton 5
TRENTON, N.J. – A rainy evening along the Delaware River provided the backdrop for New Hampshire’s first win of the season, a 9-5 drubbing of the Trenton Thunder.
The Fisher Cats scored six batting around the order in the third, highlighted by a bases-loaded double by Josh Palacios that gave the visitors a 7-0 lead.
“We’ll put this win in our pocket and go after the next one,” said Palacios.
Cullen Large went 2-for-5 with a homer in the eighth to increase his hitting streak to four games, also contributing an error in one of the few low points for New Hampshire on the night.
Alejandro Kirk went 3-for-5 with a double and a home run in the eighth to accompany Large’s blast.
Kevin Smith also put in a three-hit day, putting him at 5-for-15 over the ‘Cats first four contests.
On the mound, Sean Reid-Foley (1-0) gave up just two hits and one earned run over his six-inning gem, striking out six Trenton batters in what was a 99-pitch outing.
Sean Wymer got his first save of the year after retiring the final four Trenton batters.
The game finally concluded at 12:41 a.m. after a 90-minute rain delay in the eighth.
Tuesday, April 14 – New Hampshire 3, Trenton 1
Fisher Cats starting pitcher Patrick Murphy rebounded from a rough first inning to shut down the Trenton Thunder, helping the ‘Cats to a 3-1 victory.
Thomas Milone’s leadoff double in the first was Murphy’s only major mistake of the day, with Milone scoring later in the inning for Trenton’s only run.
Murphy (1-0) allowed just two more hits over the next six innings, striking out seven Trenton batters. Brett Cecil and Tristan Archer kept the Thunder hitless in the eighth and Sean Wymer saw one more batter than the minimum for his second save of the year.
Following the game, Cecil was diagnosed with forearm stiffness and will miss the next five contests.
At the plate, Forest Wall led the way with a 2-for-4 night, including a solo home run in the fifth.
Ben Revere and Josh Palacios added singles to bring each of their hitting streak up to four games and Cullen Large also added a single to put his streak at five games. Large also added an RBI in the seventh off a sacrifice fly that brought Wall home.
Earlier in the day, pitcher Justin Dillon was sent down to Advanced-A Dunedin, with righty Thomas Pannone taking his place. Pannone was a Fisher Cat for parts of 2017 and 2018 and has made 49 appearances with Toronto in real life, most of which came after his substance abuse suspension in 2018.
Wednesday, April 15 – Trenton 6, New Hampshire 4
TRENTON, N.J. – The Trenton Thunder avoided a sweep, taking down the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 6-4.
New Hampshire took a one-run lead out of the first inning thanks to a 371-foot home run to right by catcher Alejandro Kirk, his second dinger in as many days.
Trenton answered in the bottom of the second, with Estevan Florial opening with a first pitch triple Isiah Gillam taking New Hampshire starter Ryan Borucki deep to left, to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
The Fisher Cats tied up the contest in the fourth, with Kevin Smith and Kevin Vicuña transforming back-to-back doubles into a run, but reliever Joey Murray faltered in the fourth, allowing a one-out single by Gilliam to three-run rally for the Thunder.
New Hampshire did add runs in the sixth and seventh to keep the game within reach, but Trenton added an insurance run in the seventh to seal the victory.
Borucki left the contest with a mild oblique strain after Gillam’s blast, with Murray (0-1) taking the loss after 2 1/3 innings of relief.
At the plate, Kevin Smith also added a home run, his first of the year and Cullen Large saw his hitting streak end at five games with an 0-for-3 day. Meanwhile, Ben Revere saw his hitting streak climb to five games with an RBI single in the seventh.
Batter of the Week: Cullen Large
The 2019 Fisher Cat alumnus was consistent over the simulated season’s first week, getting on-base in all but one of the ‘Cats first six games, adding three extra-base hits and scoring three runs along the way.
Pitcher of the Week: Sean Wymer
The 2019 Dunedin Blue Jays alumnus is looking to break the Fisher Cats’ trend of not having an established closer in recent years, recording ten outs over three appearances without an earned run to his name and also recording the save in the Fisher Cats’ two early wins.