Alex Cobb

Alex Cobb had an interesting third inning tonight

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The Rays are playing host to the San Diego Padres in an inter-league three-game series this weekend, leading off with an Alex Cobb/Edinson Volquez starting pitching match-up tonight. After allowing two runs in the first on solo home runs by Will Venable and Carlos Quentin, Cobb had an interesting third inning.

Venable struck out to lead off the inning, but was able to reach first base safely on a wild pitch third strike. Chase Headley struck out for the first out of the inning. However, Venable stole second base on strike three. Cobb fell behind 1-0 to Quentin, then threw a second-pitch strike as Venable once again stole a base, winding up at third base with one out. Quentin eventually went down swinging. With a 1-1 count to Yonder Alonso, Cobb was called for a balk, allowing Venable to score and bringing the score to 3-0. Shortly thereafter, Alonso struck out swinging.

If you’re keeping score, Cobb’s line for the inning read: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 0 BB.

On April 28, Cincinnati Reds lefty Tony Cingrani also struck out four in an inning.

UPDATE: Cobb left the game with two outs in the fifth, having struck out 13 in total. As Corey Brock tweets, Cobb is the first pitcher in baseball history to have 13 or more strikeouts in fewer than five innings. DRays Bay also notes that Cobb’s start breaks a 34-game streak in which Rays starters had gone at least five innings, the second-longest streak since 1916.

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.