It felt like old times tonight in the Bronx, as Andy Pettitte tossed eight innings of one-ball and Mariano Rivera notched the save as the Yankees topped the Red Sox 4-2 for the team’s first victory of the 2013 season.
Pettitte was in control for most of the night, scattering eight hits while striking out three and walking just one. The 40-year-old southpaw held the Red Sox off the board until Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered an RBI double with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. He needed just 94 pitches to make it through eight innings.
Pettitte eventually gave way to Rivera, who made things interesting in his first regular season appearance since his knee injury last May. The 43-year-old right-hander gave up a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia and a one-out double to Jonny Gomes to bring the tying run to the plate. However, after Will Middlebrooks grounded out to drive in a run, Rivera was able to strike out Bradley looking to send the Yankee Stadium faithful home happy.
This is the 69th time that Pettitte and Rivera have combined for a win and a save. That’s the most of any duo since the save statistic was introduced.
As for the offense, Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli each hit their first home runs while Lyle Overbay added a two-run single. Eduardo Nunez went 2-for-3 with a run scored and is off to nice start (4-for-10) while filling in for Derek Jeter at shortstop.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
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.