Black Swan

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 3, Phillies 1: I had this game on in my den with the sound off while my wife watched “Black Swan” in the other room. That made it really creepy, especially when I tweeted about it last night and people kept proposing scenes in which Cliff Lee was the Natalie Portman character and Charlie Manuel was that letchy, Eurotrash director.  Try to get that out of your mind. Anyway, in four years every time he pitches, I see Lee obsessed, getting each and every pitch perfectly right but I never see him lose himself. Ever! All that discipline for what? Perfection? Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go. He should surprise himself so he can surprise the audience. Transcendence! Very few have it in them.  Lee often does. But not last night, as he walked six dudes. Of course, he was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Gerry Davis really bad. Just like Portman got squeezed by the letchy Eurotrash director. Yikes! See what I mean?!

Red Sox 8, Orioles 7: A very Matsuzakian start for Matsuzaka (4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 7 BB) is salvaged by one near-comeback between the sixth inning in which Boston turned a 6-0 deficit into a 6-5 game and then a complete one in the ninth when the Sox scored two on the power of Kevin Gregg walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and then a game-winning double by Adrian Gonzalez.

Indians 19, Royals 1:  This is one of those games that’s gonna skew the Pythagorean record for both teams for a few weeks. And Vin Mazzaro’s ERA for, like, ever, thanks to him wearing one to the tune of 2.1 IP, 11 H, 14 ER, which is arguably the worst pitching performance in baseball history. Oh, and 76 pitches for Mazzaro too, which is insane. What, did Ned Yost catch poor Vin in bed with his wife or something?  The Royals starter, Kyle Davies, left in the first inning with some sort of shoulder injury, so the stage was set for disaster regardless. All the Royals can do is realize that it only counts as one loss.

Rays 6, Yankees 5:  Alright. Flush the bombers, get the subs in launch mode. We are at DEFCON 1.  You score five runs off David Price in five innings, you figure you’ll get the win. But A.J. gave up six, five of which came in the sixth inning.  Six losses in a row for New York, which is their longest streak in four years.

Rangers 4, White Sox 0: Colby Lewis pitches the shutout while striking out seven. After a little skid in late April, Lewis has put together four straight sharp starts.

Reds 7, Cubs 4: Carlos Zambrano was cruising with a one-hitter until he hit the sixth inning and promptly gave up six runs. In all, the Reds sent 12 batters to the plate. Which, aside from making their scorecards kind of a mess, pleased the hometown crowd.

Braves 3, Astros 2: Chipper Jones’ injury forced Martin Prado to third and put Eric Hinske in at left. Prado had a couple of fabulous defensive plays (and one awful one) and Hinske had three hits, including the tie-breaking single in the seventh. Just like they drew it up, I guess. A three-hit, ten-strikeout performance for Tommy Hanson.

Nationals 4, Pirates 2: Danny Espinosa had a two-run homer in the seventh to break the tie and give the Nats the win. The same Danny Espinosa who was hitting .193. Six straight losses for the Pirates, which makes it one of the few times in recent history when a comparison to the Yankees is apt.

Blue Jays 4, Tigers 2: Detroit finally loses one and Jose Bautista finally doesn’t hit a home run. Man, I don’t know what I can count on in this world anymore.

Marlins 2, Mets 1: A home run — and I mean a moon-shot — by Mike Stanton in the seventh tied it up at 1, the Mets failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth and then Burke Badenhop — really? The relief pitcher? — drove Stanton in on an RBI single in the 11th which proved to be the game-winner. Badenhop picked up the win too.

Rockies 7, Giants 4: The Giants had recently dominated the Rockies, but it was not Tim Lincecum’s night last night, as he walked six and gave up seven runs on nine hits. A three-run homer by Carlos Gonzalez sealed the awfulness for Timmy.

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1: L.A’s offense continues to be terrible. And it isn’t helped by stuff like Carlos Gomez robbing Juan Uribe of a homer with a great catch at the wall.

Mariners 5, Twins 2: Michael Pineda toyed with the Twins in a way that a rookie pitcher should never be allowed to toy with a major league lineup (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K).

Athletics 5, Angels 4: Stellar 10th inning for Fernando Rodney: in the bottom of the inning, Kurt Suzuki drew a one-out walk, moved to second on another walk then took third on a wild pitch. Mark Ellis then hit an infield grounder to a five-man infield that was deep enough in the hole to score Suzuki.

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 4: If they’re not careful, the Padres hitters are gonna spoil their pitchers what with all of this run support they’ve been giving ’em.  Meanwhile, I’m not gonna say that Armando Galarraga — who got rocked — is worried about his job in the Dbacks’ rotation, but here was his response when asked a question about his purely hypothetical next start:

“What are you talking about the next start?” Galarraga said, glaring at the reporter. “Who you say I am going to be worried about my next start? Are you saying that I am going to lose my job? Are you trying to say that? I am frustrated about this start, not the next one.”

Careful, Armando! You can’t sell books about good sportsmanship and positive attitudes like that!

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.