In a game that featured a major league record 21 pitchers and took nearly seven hours, the Rays outlasted the Orioles 5-4 in 18 innings Friday.
The Rays’ win came hours after they were officially eliminated from AL East contention by the Red Sox, but they’ve already known for a couple of weeks that it’d probably be the wild card or nothing. They celebrated like they clinched a berth themselves when David DeJesus singled in Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the 18th.
Jennings was scratched from the Rays’ original lineup because of a sore neck, but he ended up playing 10 innings anyway and going 2-for-4 with a walk. His double got the rally started in the 18th.
Getting the victory was Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays’ 11th pitcher. The Orioles likewise turned to a starter, Bud Norris, in the 16th. He took the loss.
The Orioles went the 18 innings without ever using closer Jim Johnson, though they had him warming up often enough.
The win puts the Rays alone at the top of the wild card race. The Indians won a rain-shortened game against the Astros on Friday, and the Royals edged Rangers 2-1 after scoring in the bottom of the eighth. Here are the standings with 8-9 games left:
Tampa Bay – 84-69
Cleveland – 84-70
Texas – 83-70 (.5 games back)
Baltimore – 81-72 (2.5 games back)
Kansas City – 81-72 (2.5 games back)
New York – 81-73 (3 games back)
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.