And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Blue Jays 1, Rays 0: A single by Evan Longoria with two outs in the ninth saved the Rays from being no-hit for the third time this year.  What can you say about Brandon Morrow? Seventeen Ks, a one-hitter and the highest game score by a pitcher since Randy Johnson’s perfect game back in 2004. The only negative is that he threw 137 pitches in this one. Hopefully Cito Gaston gives him some extra rest in the coming weeks.

Braves 6, Giants 3: Atlanta threw out a JV lineup — no Heyward, no Chipper, no McCann, and of course Prado is still hurt — but it didn’t matter as Derek Lowe and a cast of relievers kept the Giants’ bats pretty darn quiet. Query: has anyone ever done a study of the Giants’ and Athletics’ won-loss record based on temperature? It was damn hot in Atlanta over the weekend. In San Francisco, however, the highs are only in the upper 60s at best this time of the summer.  I watched a lot of the action over the weekend and can’t say the Giants’ looked gassed — maybe Sandoval at times — but I can’t help but think an August series in Atlanta has to bug a team that hails from a place where there’s virtually no weather.

Phillies 6, Mets 5: The R.A. Dickey Express was bound to hit a bump in the road at some point, and this was it. The Phillies scored six runs on eight hits against the knuckler, including a Raul Ibanez rocket shot to dead center in the third that scored three. Ibanez has been insanely hot lately, by the way.

Reds 11, Cubs 4: The Reds had an 8-0 lead in the seventh before the Cubs broke through for all four of their runs with the help of some bad Reds defense. Cincy got three of the four back though and won this one pretty easily. Reds pitchers needed only 107 pitches compared to the Cubs’ 174. Jonny Gomes walked four times. The Reds have won nine of 11 and now head into a three-game series at home against the Cardinals.

Brewers 11, Astros 6: Milwaukee effectively ended this one quickly, scoring all 11 of its runs before the end of the fourth inning. Which was considerate of them inasmuch as it gave the citizens of Houston that much more time to attend to personal matters on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking of personal matters, I ordered a bunch of fun baseball shirts yesterday. A Columbus Jets number, and from the old PCL a Hollywood Stars t-shirt and a San Francisco Seals 3/4 length sleeve job. I was going to get a Portland Beavers one but I figured that would make me look like that guy who’s trying to hard to be clever. Anyway, no reason for sharing this here other than that I’m quite excited about my new shirts and felt like sharing and no one in my house gives a crap about it.

Orioles 4, White Sox 3: The Orioles won’t win their way out of the AL East cellar this year, but if Buck’s boys keep winning like this they may give 2011’s season tickets sales a boost. Baltimore has won five of six since Showalter took over. Mark Buehrle — who took the loss — said this after the game: “You’re playing one of the worst teams in baseball. We should come in here and beat these guys.”  Any given Sunday, dude. Any given Sunday.

Twins 5, Indians 4: Jim Thome hit a two-run shot against his old team to help the Twins pull to a half game of another one of his old teams. The Phillies and Dodgers are safe for now, but there’s a definite pattern here, so they best watch their backs.

Rockies 8, Pirates 4: Carlos Gonzalez went 4 for 5 with a homer and continues to be absolutely ridiculous this year. Dude’s at .327/.355/.579, and I bet that unless you live in Denver, none of the casual fans you talk to at the office know who the hell he is.

Tigers 9, Angels 4: Detroit avoids a sweep. Will Rhymes had three hits and two RBI and was sent down right after the game. I’d like to think he spent last night in a bar in Toledo talking about “damn politics, man. That’s all it is.”

Mariners 3, Royals 2: Jason Vargas and Kyle Davies had a little pitchers duel that probably said more about the teams’ respective offenses than it did about Vargas and Davies.

Athletics 3, Rangers 2: Trevor Cahill does it again: Only three strikeouts, but he (a) didn’t walk anyone; (b) got more grounders than fly balls; and (c) kept the ball in the yard.

Padres 10, Diamondbacks 1:  San Diego averts a sweep at the hands of the lowly Dbacks and does so in impressive fashion. Jerry Hairston had three hits, one of which was a homer, scored four times and drove in two. Mat Latos threw six shutout innings and combined with the pen to throw a three hitter.

Dodgers 8, Nationals 3: Jason Marquis made his triumphant return, going four innings, allowing five hits and five runs, but only two of them were earned. OK, I guess that’s not terribly triumphant, but he’s back for whatever that’s worth. Ted Lilly gets his second win in a row in a Dodgers uniform. Jamey Carroll went 3 for 3 with a walk and drove in a couple.

Yankees 7, Red Sox 2: I’m not gonna lie to you: I didn’t watch this one. I watched “Hot Tub Time Machine” instead. I’m not sure if I made the right choice. “Hot Tub Time Machine” wasn’t good, but at times it had some so-bad-it’s-good elements. And the more I think about it, a three hour Yankees-Red Sox game whose outcome wasn’t in doubt after the fifth inning and in which there was a legitimate reason to compare Derek Jeter to Babe Ruth would have been way, way too much for me.

Cardinals vs. Marlins: POSTPONED:  
I opened my eyes and looked up at the rain, and it dripped in my head and flowed into my brain. And all that I hear as I lie in my bed is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head. I step very softly, I walk very slow, I can’t do a handstand– I might overflow. So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said– I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a designated 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.