The Yankees season is underway. In reality, they are 2-2 after splitting its opening series in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Another Yankees team exists in another parallel universe, however, and throughout this season I’ll be providing weekly updates on what the other Yankees do. Where does this other Yankees team exist, you ask? In Out of the Park Baseball 19 (OOTP) located on my hard drive.
If you’re not familiar with OOTP, you’re missing out. It’s an extremely deep baseball simulation game that basically lets you control as much or as little as you’d like of a team and league (not just Major League Baseball, either!). As mentioned, I’ll be running the virtual Yankees in order to see how they stack up against their real life counterparts. My plan is to provide updates every Monday and to stay on the Yankees real schedule. That means my next update, on April 9, will feature all results from today’s home opener through Sunday. Today, we begin with the universe setup and opening series in Toronto:
Move over Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone, there’s a new sheriff in town. I’ve assumed both the GM and Manager duties, though Cashman is amusingly staying on as assistant GM. Fine by me!
Upon starting up this game as the Yankees’ showrunner, Hal Steinbrenner prompted me with a handful of goals:
1. Make the playoffs in 2018? Fair enough.
2. Upgrade at third base this season? He’s sour on Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar before the season is underway, I guess, but alright. If his eyes are on Manny Machado, I guess I can’t blame him.
3. The third goal: sign Neil Walker to an extension. Um, okay? Weird goal. To be honest, I’m not planning to do that.
4. The last goal: reach the World Series in the next 5 seasons. That makes sense.
Before we get to the first game of the season, one trade went down prior to the regular season’s commencement. The Dodgers and Royals swapped Andrew Toles and Kelvin Herrera.
Alright. Let’s get on to the actual games. Not like there’s any spring training to play, anyway. In this universe, there’s nothing going on in March, not until Opening Day in Toronto at least. Quirky, but I wouldn’t mind skipping spring training every year.
Opening Day: Bittersweet Victory
Want to know how realistic OOTP is? Look no further than Giancarlo Stanton’s first at-bat in this alternate world. Stanton set the tone with a solo shot in his first at-bat to give the Yankees an early lead. The dinger was against Marcus Stroman, not JA Happ, who got the nod in real life. Stroman wasn’t long for the game after allowing two more runs in both the second and third innings before getting yanked. Toronto’s bullpen fared no better, allowing three more runs. Two of those three runs against the Jays’ bullpen were on solo home runs hit by Aaron Judge and Tyler Wade. Yes, surprisingly Wade! The final was in the Yankees’ favor, 8-3.
Thus ends the “sweet” portion of this recap. Here’s where of the “bitter” comes into play: Luis Severino strained his oblique while recording the final out of the fifth inning (Severino threw 5 shutout innings). I think we’d all be freaking out if that happened in reality. Fortunately, it seems like a relatively minor injury, though it will require a DL trip (I called up Domingo German immediately after the game). The plan is to give German Severino’s next start, but if he’s needed in relief, it could go to Luis Cessa.
Game two: Pitching, pitching, pitching
The second game lacked the offensive excitement of the first but instead featured pitching brilliance. Masahiro Tanaka, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman combined to throw a four-hit shutout to beat the Jays 2-0. Not too much more to add here.
Game three: A comeback for naught
Offense stole the show right from the start of Saturday’s game. A first-inning rally put the Yankees ahead 1-0 against Aaron Sanchez, but CC Sabathia coughed that up quickly. Justin Smoak hit a solo home run and Russell Martin clouted a three-run tater to give the Jays a 4-1 lead after one eventful inning. Both starters settled down though, as CC didn’t allow another run and completed five innings of work. Aaron Sanchez pitched seven strong innings and only gave up one more tally, making the score 4-2 after seven innings. Things got interesting once Toronto’s bullpen came into play.
In the eighth, the Yankees offense quickly tied the game against Ryan Tepera, with Stanton playing the hero. His second home run of the year was of the two-run variety and leveled the score. The Yankees’ bullpen, which had been strong since Sabathia’s exit (Chad Green threw two clean innings and David Robertson tacked on another in the eighth), couldn’t maintain the tie in the ninth. Robertson’s quick 8th inning earned him the 9th frame against the bottom of Toronto’s order. Unfortunately, after a Brandon Drury fielding error, Aledmys Diaz drilled a walk-off double to right to give the Yankees their first loss of the year.
Game four: Rollercoaster into extras
One thing to note before a summary of the fourth game: I received an update on Jacoby Ellsbury’s recovery. He suffered a setback in his rehab and the timetable to return is now up in the air. Fortunately, Aaron Hicks and Billy McKinney are just fine, so the alternate Yankees outfield depth hasn’t been tested yet. Now, onto the game.
The offense had no problem hitting Marco Estrada. Giancarlo Stanton opened the scoring with a solo shot in the first, Tyler Austin hit a solo bomb in the second, and Aaron Judge launched a two-run blast in the third. Sonny Gray was pitching well and the three long balls staked the Yankees to a 4-1 lead into the 5th. That’s when Gray unraveled, though, surrendering a two-out game-tying three-run homer to Russell Martin. With Gray still pitching in the 6th, Toronto took the lead on a mini-rally capped off by a Kevin Pillar RBI single. Two innings later, Pillar gave the Jays an insurance run against Adam Warren with an 8th inning RBI double. It looked like the series would wind up a split.
Roberto Osuna came in to protect a two-run lead in the 9th. After retiring Tyler Wade, Gary Sanchez pinch hit for Austin Romine and immediately cut the deficit to one with a solo home run. It only took two more batters for the Yankees to tie it. Neil Walker singled and subsequently scored from first on an RBI double off Aaron Judge’s bat.
Aroldis Chapman pitched a clean 9th inning to preserve the tie. In the 10th, Sanchez struck again. Remember, he didn’t even start! He hit another home run, this time a two-run dinger, to give the Yankees an 8-6 lead. Dellin Betances closed the game in the 10th to lock up the series victory.
Real Universe Yankees: 2-2
Parallel Universe Yankees: 3-1
And here’s a snapshot of the season at its earliest stage:
The Yankees took three out of four from Toronto in the season’s opening series. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez hit eight home runs altogether. Luis Severino hurt his oblique in the first game and will miss a few weeks with Domingo German taking his roster spot. Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a setback in his recovery. No injuries to Aaron Hicks and Billy McKinney, at least!