Zack Wheeler

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 1, Marlins 0: A three-hit shutout for Zack Wheeler, with the only run support he got or needed being David Wright’s first inning solo shot. That overshadowed what was otherwise a pretty spiffy major league debut for Andrew Heaney who, apart from the homer, basically shut down the Mets bats for six and a third innings.

Pirates 4, Reds 3: Russell Martin drew a bases-loaded walk off Tony Cingrani with two outs in the 12th. Otherwise known as the walkoff walk. That whole last inning was special. Gaby Sanchez single, got balked to second, then Bryan Price decided to have Josh Harrison intentionally walked, Cingrani then plunked Clint Barmes to load the bases. Talk about your unforced errors.

Phillies 4, Cardinals 1: Ryan Howard remains hot — he hit a homer and drove in three — and the Phillies win again. They are now only four games out of first place in a division with no clearly elite team. Do I think they have a chance? Nah. Do I think they’ll flirt enough with respectability to fool Ruben Amaro into not making trades that could start a meaningful rebuilding process? Oh, definitely.

Indians 5, Angels 3: Cool walkoff grand slam, bro! We talked about that and Mike Scioscia’s curious bullpen decisions yesterday. But at least they were happy in Brohio.

Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 1: Yovani Gallardo improved to 7-0 with an ERA of 1.93 in ten career starts against the Dbacks. After the game he searched for an explanation:

“Sometimes you look at it as how this game is. There are certain things like that I wish I could explain, but I just can’t.”

Dude. I can.

Tigers 2, Royals 1: The Royals’ ten-game winning streak is snapped thanks to Anibal Sanchez allowing one run over seven innings. It didn’t help that the Royals didn’t have Alex Gordon, who sat out due to flu-like symptoms. Not that he didn’t try:

I feel bad for the groundskeeping assistant, frankly.

Padres 4, Mariners 1:  A four-run seventh inning for San Diego, in which Chris Denorfia singled in the go-ahead run. The Padres won back-to-back games for the first time since the end of May.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4: The Yankees have won 16 straight over Toronto at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays have lost nine of 12 and their lead in the East is down to a game and a half.

Braves 3, Nationals 0: For as crappy as the Braves have been playing lately they can at least count on beating Washington. They are 23-7 in their past 30 games against the Nationals, including 6-1 this season. The win came with a price, though: Gavin Floyd fractured his elbow and is gone for the year.

Rays 5, Astros 0: Chris Archer had six and two-thirds shutout innings. Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria hit back-to-back homers on back-to-back pitches.

Twins 4, White Sox 2: Let’s hear it for the relatively old guys: Yohan Pino is 30, but he was still making his major league debut last night. Pino allowed two runs and struck out seven in seven innings. A Joe Mauer RBI double and a Kurt Suzuki sac fly in the eighth broke a 2-2- tie.

Athletics 4, Red Sox 2: Scott Kazmir allowed two runs over seven innings striking out eight and walking no one to win his ninth game and to keep the Red Sox offense searching for answers. Yoenis Cespedes homered. In June he is hitting .343 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 17 games.

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.