Orioles Britton rubs his face as he leaves the field in their MLB American League baseball game against the Yankees in Baltimore

Yankees earn split in Baltimore to remain atop AL East

21 Comments

There was nothing settled in Baltimore this weekend: the Yankees crushed the Orioles 13-3 on Sunday to earn a split of the four-game series and maintain a one-game lead in the AL East.

Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter homered in the rout.

The Yankees took a 5-0 lead in a four-run fourth inning that included a pair of bases-loaded walks. Baltimore came right back with three runs in the bottom of the frame, but that amounted to all of the team’s scoring on the day. The Yankees turned it into a laugher by scoring two in the seventh and five in the eighth.

Granderson became the first Yankee since at least 1918 to knock in five runs in a game in which he didn’t start. He pinch-hit for Andruw Jones after the Orioles replaced left-hander Zach Britton and had a solo homer, a two-run single and a two-run double in his three at-bats.

The Cubs’ David DeJesus and the Athletics’ Seth Smith have also had five-RBI games off the bench this year.

Joba Chamberlain got his first win of the year for the Yankees after relieving Freddy Garcia in the fourth and pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

While nothing was settled in the standings this weekend, it will likely prove to be a costly series for both teams. Nick Markakis is out six weeks with a broken thumb after being hit by a CC Sabathia pitch, and Mark Teixeira could be done for at least the regular season after aggravating his calf Saturday night.

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
6 Comments

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
2 Comments

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.