Here are the Orioles’ and Rangers’ lineups for the Wild Card playoff game:
BALTIMORE ORIOLES TEXAS RANGERS
1. Nate McLouth, LF 1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. J.J. Hardy, SS 2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Chris Davis, RF 3. Josh Hamilton, LF
4. Adam Jones, CF 4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Matt Wieters, C 5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Jim Thome, DH 6. Michael Young, 1B
7. Mark Reynolds, 1B 7. Mike Napoli, DH
8. Ryan Flaherty, 2B 8. Geovany Soto, C
9. Manny Machado, 3B 9. Craig Gentry, CF
SP Joe Saunders, LH SP Yu Darvish, RH
Buck Showalter is going with what has become his standard lineup versus right-handed pitching following injuries to Nick Markakis and Wilson Betemit. Jim Thome gets the start at designated hitter and will be playing in his 68th career playoff game at age 41. Of the nine players starting for the Orioles tonight only Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and J.J. Hardy were in the Opening Day lineup at the same position (Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds also played the opener, but at different spots than tonight).
Ron Washington stacked the Rangers’ lineup with right-handed bats against left-hander Joe Saunders. David Murphy played regularly against lefties during the season, but he’s benched tonight in favor of Craig Gentry, which also shifts Josh Hamilton from center field to left field. Lefty-hitting Mitch Moreland is also out of the lineup, with Michael Young taking over for him at first base and Mike Napoli sliding into Young’s usual designated hitter spot. Geovany Soto, who was acquired from the Cubs to be Napoli’s backup, will catch Yu Darvish’s playoff debut.
Feel free to chat during the game in the comments section.
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.