After the Nationals coughed up a 7-3 lead in the top of the ninth Thursday against the Pirates, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning, giving Washington a 9-7 win.
Harper’s homer came off Bryan Morris with two outs in the ninth. He had gone 12 straight games without an RBI before delivering his shot just over the wall in left center. It was his first homer since July 1 and 14th of the season.
The Nationals needed Harper to play the hero because Rafael Soriano and Ian Krol combined to give up four runs in the top of the ninth. Soriano walked the first two batters he faced and gave up two hits while retiring just one batter afterwards. He was pulled from a 7-5 game with left-hander Pedro Alvarez coming up. Krol ended up walking Alvarez (when being able to throw just one breaking ball in the vicinity of the plate probably would have gotten him a strikeout) and giving up a two-run single to Josh Harrison.
The contest ended with neither manager in his respective dugout. Davey Johnson was tossed in the fifth, and Clint Hurdle was ejected two innings later. The sloppy game featured three Pirates errors in the Nationals’ four-run first inning.
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.