St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Brewers 4: Albert Pujols came up big — two homers including a grand slam — and the Cards swept the division-leading Brewers. Yes, that’s cool, but some perspective: Even if the Brewers go .500 in their remaining games the Cardinals would have to go 20-5 to tie them. Ten-game deficits are a lulu.

Dodgers 6, Pirates 4: Dana Eveland was impressive, allowing only one run on six hits in eight innings. Which is great for me because I have an excuse to trot out the observation I make any time I have occasion to talk about Dana Eveland: If you didn’t know he was a pitcher and you simply heard the name, you’d think that “Dana Eveland” was an actress from the 1940s who used to play second banana in musicals and light comedies. She was under contract with Warner Brothers but was loaned out to MGM on occasion.  Try it: list off a leading man and a leading woman of that era and then say “and also starring Dana Eveland!”  It totally works.

Athletics 7, Indians 0: Gio Gonzalez and Craig Breslow combined to shut out the Indians. Of course, as is usually the case, it wasn’t an equal combination, what with Gonzalez pitching seven innings and Breslow two.  Games like these are a lot like when Hunter and Dee Dee used to take down some crime boss. Hunter would shoot 16 dudes, take a bullet in the arm and still find time to crack wise. Meanwhile, Dee Dee would — especially if it was sweeps week — be posing as a stripper or a prostitute or something and would maybe — maybe — hit one of the bad guys over the head with a pitcher of beer or her purse or something.  At the end, Captain Devane would still say “great job, you two” as if it were somehow a matter of equal effort.  What? don’t look at me that way.  I never said that 1980s action/adventure shows were enlightened. But I grew up on ’em, OK? They’re part of my cultural DNA.

Royals 11, Tigers 8: The first line of the AP recap says it all about this ugly-ass game:

Danny Duffy overthrew his catcher on an intentional walk, and Alcides Escobar struck out on a pitch that hit him in the shoulder.

Jeff Francoeur was 3 for 5 with a homer, a double and three driven in. His assessment of the game: “You saw a lot of stuff.”

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Brett Lawrie broke a tie with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth.  Kid is a total boss.

Phillies 6, Reds 4: Vance Worley does nothin’ but win baseball games. Ryan Howard hit a home run — his 30th — giving him the 30 home run, 100 RBI combination that so many of you are impressed with.

Mets 7, Marlins 5: Miguel Batista makes his Mets debut and its a good one: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER.

Braves 5, Nationals 2: Brian McCann and Chipper Jones homered to kick things off and Tim Hudson carried things through. The Nats actually scored a run off Jonny Venters. You don’t see that happen very often.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2: A.J. Burnett didn’t win, but he kept his team in the game, and that’s something he hadn’t done for a long time. Things got scary in the ninth as the Sox loaded the bases and Adrian Gonzalez came to the plate. But dude, Mariano Rivera.  Also: 4:21. Four a nine-inning game with six total runs scored. My lord.

Rangers 7, Rays 2: Two solo homers for Ian Kinsler and a nice outing for C.J. Wilson, who was perfect through five innings but injured his index finger when he reached for a grounder with his pitching hand. He stayed in for a while, but it was buggin’ him too much.

Angels 4, Mariners 3: Ervin Santana walked seven, but you can get away with that against teams like the Mariners.

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.