Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 9, Giants 6: The Braves should have had this one won in regulation, but Fredi Gonzalez apparently fell asleep while reliever Jairo Ascencio poured kerosene all over the place and lit a match in the seventh inning. Maybe the warmth made Gonzalez’s nap more cozy. I don’t know. All I know is that by the time he woke up and yanked Ascencio, a 5-2 Braves lead had turned into a 6-5 Giants lead. A Dan Uggla homer in the eighth tied it up and then the Braves broke through against Brian Wilson in the 10th, loading the bases with no one out and subsequently plating three. Jason Heyward had a three-run homer. He went 7 for 12 with that homer and four RBI against the Giants over the weekend.

Red Sox 7, Angels 0: A butt whuppin’. Both this game and the whole series. And really the whole west coast swing. I don’t think we need to worry too much about the Red Sox anymore. This was the Red Sox’ first four-game sweep in Anaheim since 1980.

Phillies 3, Padres 1: You’ll see a bad Roy Halladay start on occasion, like the one we saw against Milwaukee last week. Then he’ll mow down the next team he faces. Fourteen strikeouts for Doc. The Padres scored three runs in four games against the Phillies.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 3: I watched most of this one. For all practical purposes it was over in the first inning when the Dodgers pulled the old blitzkrieg on Carlos Zambrano, scoring five runs before I even had the cap off my beer. Lots of sloppy defense too, so it actually worked out well for me inasmuch as I didn’t mind turning it off to go over to my parents’ house for Easter dinner. If it was a good game I had to turn off I would have been all surly over there. Er, surlier.

Mets 8, Diamondbacks 4: Four straight wins for the Mets. This one was occasioned by two David Wright homers. So I guess two things we thought we were sure of the other day — that the Mets suck and that David Wright is getting killed by his home park — aren’t quite as clear as we thought.

Tigers 3, White Sox 0: Before the game Ozzie Guillen tweeted “Let’s be ready to turn this crapp.”  I suppose that’s open for multiple interpretations, but I’m guessing that being shut out for the second day in a row was not what he was aiming for.

Brewers 4, Astros 1: I, for one, welcome our new hawk overlords. The Wolf ones (Randy) are pretty impressive too (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER).

Yankees 6, Orioles 3: Mariano Rivera blew his second save in a week — and Joba Chamberlain had given up a couple of runs before that — but the Yankees broke through in the eleventh on the power of a boatload of infield singles and throwing errors. And you thought that they could only score via the long ball. Well, they got a long ball from Curtis Granderson, but all of the other runs came via ground rather than air forces.

Rangers 8, Royals 7: The Rangers are unimpressed with the precocious Royals, sweeping them the heck out of Arlington. Michael Young and Jeff Francoeur stretch their respective hitting streaks to 14. Alex Gordon stretches his to 18.

Athletics 5, Mariners 2: Oakland salvages one in Seattle behind a strong Brett Anderson outing. Coco Crisp reached base three times and scored on each occasion.

Nationals 6, Pirates 3: Mike Morse had three hits, including a three-run homer. It was his first homer on the year which, given how many he hit last year (15) in so few at bats (266) is a surprise.

Twins 4, Indians 3: Three wins in a row for the Twins, who are starting to show some signs of life.

Marlins 6, Rockies 3: Ubaldo Jimenez gave up only one hit, but unfortunately for him he walked four guys and that one hit was a bases-loaded triple. Colorado came back to tie it late, but Mike Stanton’s three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth sealed it. Oh, and Marlins fans were booing Hanley Ramirez in this one which seems pretty nutso to me.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 0: Wow, what has gotten into James Shields? Back-to-back complete games in which he allowed only four hits. Unlike the last one, though, this was a shutout. All of the game’s scoring was over in the first inning with Ben Zobrist’s two-run homer. The game took two hours and five minutes.

Cardinals 3, Reds 0: When Yadier Molina hit that three-run home run just as the rain was picking up, I was sure it was time for Tony La Russa to activate the microchip he had implanted in the umpiring crew’s brains, causing them to call the game before the Cardinals’ bullpen was summoned to lock it down.  There must have been a malfunction, however, because they played on and the shutout of the Reds was completed. Jake Westbrook had his best start of the year. Edinson Volquez somehow avoided his usual first inning meltdown and looked good himself until the Molina homer. Which came after it looked like Volquez hyper-extended his left knee, by the way, even though Dusty Baker didn’t seem to care about it too much.  Pujols left the game gimpy too.

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.