Someone did in fact flirt with a no-no in the Bronx tonight, but it wasn’t Johan Santana after he threw 134 pitches last week in the first no-hitter in Mets history. Hiroki Kuroda held the Mets hitless for 5 2/3 innings Friday in the Yankees’ 9-1 victory.
Santana, who had thrown back-to-back shutouts against the Padres and Cardinals, was lit up for six runs in five innings in this one. He surrendered four homers, matching his total for the season entering the night.
Robinson Cano hit two of the four homers, giving him 11 on the season. Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones went back-to-back-to-back off Santana with two outs in the third inning.
Still, it was Kuroda who shined brightest in this one, facing the minimum for 5 2/3 before Omar Quintanilla doubled into the left-center gap. It was the only hit he allowed on the night before a bruised foot forced him to depart after the seventh.
As for Santana, he had his typical velocity tonight after getting a couple of extra days of rest, but not his location, as he left too many pitches up in the strike zone. He’s now 3-3 with a 2.96 ERA in 12 starts this season.
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.
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.