Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians

Rays and Indians both win to maintain their respective leads in the AL Wild Card race

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The Rays defeated the Orioles 3-1 this afternoon behind a strong start from Enny Romero in his Major League debut. The left-hander, who spent most of the season with Double-A Montgomery, shut out the O’s in four and two-thirds innings, allowing just one hit while walking four and failing to record a strikeout. The Rays scored in the first on a David DeJesus solo home run and tacked on two more in the sixth. Fernando Rodney allowed a run in the ninth but was able to record his 36th save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Indians had an easy time against the Astros. After falling behind 2-0 in the fourth, the Indians put up a three-spot against Astros starter Erik Bedard. They added a four more in the sixth, three of which were charged to Bedard, who couldn’t record an out in the inning. Corey Kluber had a strong start, allowing just the two runs in five and one-third innings of work. Seven Indians relievers combined for three and two-thirds shutout innings behind Kluber.

The 86-69 Rays maintain a half-game lead over the Indians for the first AL Wild Card spot. The 86-70 Indians saw their lead over the Rangers grow to 1.5 games as Justin Maxwell hit a walk-off grand slam against Rangers reliever Joakim Soria.

The Rays will wrap up their series with the Orioles tomorrow afternoon before going on the road to finish the season against the Yankees and Blue Jays. The Indians will play the White Sox twice at home, then travel to Minnesota for four games before the end of the season.

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.