And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Smoltz.jpgYankees 13, Red Sox 6: Lord, deliver us from Red Sox-Yankees
baseball, because this game was positively interminable. Bob has the details here. And while
we’re petitioning the Lord here, let us ask Him to prevail upon one
John Smoltz (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER) to hang up his spikes, because this is
just way too painful for a fan of 22 years to witness. And what’s with
you, Joba? What happened to that fast-working, strike-throwing ace we
saw four or five days ago? Seven walks? 108 pitches in five innings? Is
there some NESN/YES deal in place none of us are aware of that pays
everyone by the hour?

Phillies 3, Rockies 1: I can’t tell you how thrilled we NL East
fans are that the Phillies got Cliff Lee. Truly, we’re so, so happy for
Philadelphia. The figurative cherry on top of our giant ice cream
sundae of misery went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out
nine.

Angels 9, White Sox 5: Jon Danks gave up seven runs on nine hits
and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. “I got my butt kicked, that’s all you
can say.” Well in that case, let’s move on.

Rangers 6, Athletics 4: I gotta start reading more prospect
books and stuff in the spring. Even though I’ve noted Tommy Hunter’s
existence this season — even wrote about him once — I see “T. Hunter”
in the box score and my first thought is “When did Torii Hunter get
traded to Texas and why is he pitching?” My second thought is “I wonder
if Tab Hunter is still alive?” He was in “Damn Yankees,” you know, so
there’s a baseball connection. So I went and checked Wikipedia. Yep,
still kickin’ at 78. And though I knew Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins were
both gay, I had no idea that they were a thing for a while. Too bad it
didn’t work out for those two. Tony Perkins played Jimmy Piersall once,
you know. Basically everything’s about baseball. Oh, Tommy/Torii/Tab
pitched well (7 P, 3 H, 2 ER).

Nationals 12, Marlins 8: The Fish blow a 6-0 lead and wind up
getting slaughtered — and swept — by Washington. Ryan Zimmerman
walked, hit two singles, a triple, a homer and had three RBIs. Elijah
Dukes was 3-4 with four RBI.

Tigers 7, Orioles 3: Alex Avila — the son of the Tigers’
assistant GM — made his major league debut and hit a two-out RBI
double in the third inning. The only thing worse than working with the
boss’ kid is when the boss’ kid actually knows what he’s doing so you
can’t claim to have been given the shaft. Game story: “Porcello (10-7)
became just the second pitcher in franchise history with double digits
in wins at the age of 20 or younger, joining Dave Rozema, who had 11
victories before his 21st birthday.” Of course Rozema never won double digits again after his 15-win, 16-CG, age-20 season in 1977. Thanks, Ralph Houk!

Indians 2, Twins 1: That’s three earned runs in 11 innings
pitched since returning to the bigs for Fausto Carmona. That’s
deceiving, though, because he’s only struck out three guys, walked
seven and has given up ten hits in those innings. Oh, and his season
ERA is now at 6.66, so like that whole Satan/Goethe/Faust/Fausto
thing that everyone always talks about is just underscored now. Wait,
you mean I’m the only one who brings that up? Moving right along . . .
If I were a betting man, I’d bet that 2007 was just one of those
magical one-off years for Carmona, and that he’ll never touch that
level again. How many personnel decisions did Mark Shapiro make based
on the opposite assumption?

Dodgers 5, Braves 4: Three-run walkoff homer for Andre Ethier. I didn’t see it, so let’s hear from tHeMARksMiTh, who did:

It was signed, sealed, and delivered with Soriano coming in
for the ninth, and though it was only a two-run lead, it felt like it
was five. But he just didn’t have his command, and two pitches before
Ethier hit that home run I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with
Soriano tonight, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

God damn it that one hurt.
 

Royals 8, Mariners 2: Bruce Chen wins the “scattered” award for the night, by allowing ten hits in 6.2 innings yet only giving up two runs.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 6: Wow, when the Pirates lose in extra
innings, they lose big. Even Dan Haren had an RBI in the 12th., and he
thought he had the night off. Pirate reliever Steven Jackson gave up
five runs on four hits in 12th, and was demoted to Triple-A
Indianapolis right after the game.

Padres 8, Mets 3: New York has lost six in a row in Petco Park.
Strange place to be having trouble. The Padres extended Bud Black’s
contract through 2010 after the game.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.