Pineda Pine Tar

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 5, Yankees 1Michael Pineda: master criminal. I have a longer, more in-depth post about this here. Short version: the “Jeez, Pineda! How can you be so dumb?!!” angle everyone has jumped to in the hours since he got caught misses the important point of all of this. In the meantime, remember: some have claimed that about 90% of pitchers do what Pineda did. If that’s true, perhaps it’s worth looking at the signals baseball has sent about pitchers using foreign substances before we decide either how bad or how dumb a guy Pineda is. As for Pineda: thankfully no one in New York will turn this into a week-long drama and try to compete with one another for the hottest take on it all. Oh, wait. That’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Rangers 3, Athletics 0: Martin Perez has tossed two straight shutouts and has 26 consecutive scoreless innings overall, as he shut out the Astros for eight innings a couple of starts ago. After the game, Ron Washington said Perez “has weapons and he can throw them all for strikes.” I don’t know about pine tar, but I feel like having weapons is TOTALLY against the rules, so maybe someone should check Perez’s pockets next time out.

Braves 3, Marlins 1: Aaron Harang (6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER 11K) is no Martin Perez, but he continues to be one of the better last-week-of-spring-training pickups in baseball history and is either (a) proof that the Indians made a big mistake cutting him in March; (b) proof that pitching in the National League is easier than pitching in beer league softball. or (c) proof that baseball is just a weird game you can’t predict sometimes.

Diamondbacks 7, Cubs 5: It’s probably fitting that the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field featured a pull-your-guts-out loss for Cubs fans. They had a three-run lead entering the ninth inning and, even though Pedro Strop and some bad defense allowed the Dbacks to load the bases and score two runs, they did get the Dbacks down to their final out. Then James Russell and Justin Grimm came in and threw matches on the kerosene Strop poured all over the place. Aaron Hill’s two-run triple gave the Snakes the lead and, ultimately, the win.

Mariners 5, Astros 3: Two homers for Kyle Seager helps the Mariners avoid the sweep.

Giants 12, Rockies 10: Hector Sanchez hit two homers to help his team avoid a sweep too, but his second one was a grand slam in extra innings that gave the Giants the game so he gets extra points over Seager.

Nationals 5, Angels 4: Let’s mix up the Dbacks’ come-from-behind victory with the sweep-avoiding big hits from the Mariners and Giants games: a come-from-behind, sweep-avoiding victory for Washington, this one thanks to a two-run double by Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche’s game-winning RBI single.

White Sox 6, Tigers 4: Wait, here’s another twist: how about a come-from-behind grand slam? Eh? Like that? Marcus Semien and his teammates did. What I liked: watching Jose Abreu hit his second home run of the series into the bushes behind the center field wall at Comerica. That is seriously, seriously far and not a ton of folks can reach that place. Abreu has done it on two swings that looked pretty effortless. That dude is stronger than all get-out.

Indians 5, Royals 3: Michael Bourn had three hits and two RBI, while Bourn, Nick Swisher and Kipnis — Cleveland’s 1-2-3 hitters — combined for six hits and three RBIs. Kipnis’ RBI double in the seventh put the Tribe ahead.

Reds 5, Pirates 2: Alfredo Simon started out a bit shaky. He said it was cold and he had a hard time feeling the ball. Gee, if only there were something he could put on his fingers to help him out … Alas, he settled down and ended up pitching six and two-thirds of two-run ball. Simon is in the rotation filling in for the injured Mat Latos. He has a 1.30 ERA in that role.

Orioles 10, Blue Jays 8: Baltimore spotted Toronto a 6-1 lead but won anyway, thanks in part to Nelson Cruz’s two homers. Chris Tillman gave up seven runs on nine hits and after the game Buck Showalter said “in a lot of ways, it might be one of his best outings this year.” OK.

Mets 3, Cardinals 2: The Mets came close to blowing this in the ninth, but with one out shortstop Ruben Tejada fielded a throw from center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis to nail Matt Carpenter at the plate in a play so close they had to go to replay. In other news, Michael Wacha struck out ten and walked five in four innings. Nuke LaLoosh is going to sue him for stealing his bit.

Brewers 5, Padres 2: Yet another win for the Brew Crew, yet another save for K-Rod. Next year when someone asks me to write up my predictions I’m just gonna post a picture of the 2014 Brewers with the words “There is no God, the universe is chaos” scrawled across it.

Twins 6, Rays 4: All Chris Colabello does is drive in runs. Four more here for 26 on the year, which is a franchise record for the month of April. The best part though was Colabello’s quote about RBI after the game:

“RBIs are a product of opportunity, and I’m thankful to this coaching staff for believing in me enough to put me in the middle of this order, and to the guys in front of me for getting on base. My job is to knock them in, and it just so happens this month there’s quite a few of them.”

Would that anyone remember that at MVP voting time.

Dodgers 5, Phillies 2: Zach Greinke won his fourth, striking out 11. Cole Hamels made his season debut, allowing two runs in six innings and then getting yanked after 86 pitches. About which he wasn’t pleased. More on that later this morning.

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.