Yu Darvish was flirting with history for a little while tonight, but he ended up notching his fourth 14-strikeout game of the season in a 7-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
In a thoroughly-dominating performance, Darvish gave up just five hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings for his 10th victory of the season. He had six strikeouts through the first two innings and struck out a pair in each of the next the four frames.
Our own Matthew Pouliot notes that Darvish has four of the six 14-strikeout games in MLB this season, with Chris Sale and Anibal Sanchez being the only others. Among Darvish’s 14-strikeout games, he has three where he hasn’t issued a walk. As Adam J. Norris of Lone Star Ball points out, that’s pretty darn rare for a career, let alone a single season.
Darvish is the seventh pitcher in history with at least four 14-strikeout games in a season, joining Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Sam McDowell, and Mark Langston. He currently leads the majors with 186 strikeouts in 138 2/3 innings and has reached double-digits in eight of his 21 starts.
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.