Update (9:47 PM): The Braves tacked on four runs of support after Harang was told he wasn’t coming back out for the eighth inning to complete his no-hitter. Lefty Luis Avilan replaced Harang in the bottom half of the eighth and retired the first two Mets hitters he faced, but surrendered a two-out single to David Wright, ending the no-hit bid. Avilan struck out Curtis Granderson to end the inning.
Braves starter Aaron Harang no-hit the Mets through seven innings in New York, kicking off the first of a three-game series. The tall, 35-year-old right-hander issued six walks, but the Mets otherwise weren’t able to get anything going offensively. Harang threw 121 pitches, so manager Fredi Gonzalez asked his bullpen to finish off the no-hitter for the veteran.
Chris Johnson gave Harang a bit of run support in the second inning with an RBI double. The Braves tacked on four more runs in the top of the eighth inning on a Freddie Freeman two-run home run, a throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud after Dan Uggla doubled, and an RBI double by Jordan Schafer.
Harang brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his Braves debut on April 2 against the Brewers. He’s been solid to start the season, entering the night with a 0.96 ERA over 18 2/3 innings in three starts. He lowered it to 0.70 ERA with his seven scoreless innings against the Mets.
The last Braves pitcher to toss a no-hitter was Kent Mercker on April 8, 1994. The last time the Mets were no-hit was on September 8, 1993 when Darryl Kile of the Astros accomplished the feat.
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.