J.A. Happ plays spoiler in return to Philadelphia

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Be honest. If on Sunday night, somebody told you that the Braves were going to get swept in Colorado you probably would have guessed that the Phillies would have
picked up at least a game or two in the standings while playing the
lowly-Astros. Heck, I would have too. Let this series function as a reminder of why they play the games.

Just two days after Brett Myers stymied his former team, J.A. Happ did the same, allowing two runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings as part of a 3-2 win over the Phils last night. He stuck around just long enough for the victory, as the Astros plated the go-ahead run on an RBI single by Humberto Quintero off Halladay in the top of the seventh.

Happ tried his best to treat last night’s start like he would any other game, but he told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that he had some butterflies facing his former team.

“I’m a little relieved it’s over,” Happ said. “There were definitely
some nerves going out there and I didn’t know how I was going to feel.
Just like usual, once you get out there and get going, it’s just another
game … kind of.”

Alas, the Phillies remain where they started the week, sitting 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves. The Astros will go for the unlikely four-game road sweep when Wandy Rodriguez opposes Kyle Kendrick this afternoon. I’m guessing tensions will be pretty high. 

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.