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: Red Sox, Yankees have contacted Marlins about Martin Prado

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With just over a month to go before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, trade rumors are beginning to crop up. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the Red Sox and Yankees have each reached out to the Marlins about infielder Martin Prado.

The Marlins enter play Wednesday 35-40 and in third place in the NL East. They are expected to continue to sell after trading shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays. However, as the club itself is in the middle of rumors with a handful of prospective new owners, major pieces like Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich probably won’t be moved until that is settled.

Prado, 33, is hitting .277/.299/.398 with two home runs and nine RBI in 87 plate appearances. He has played in only 21 games due to calf and hamstring injuries. When he’s healthy, though, he is typically productive and he can play all four infield positions as well as the outfield corners. Prado is under contract for the next two seasons as well, at $13.5 million and $15 million.

With either the Red Sox or Yankees, Prado would likely assume third base. The Red Sox have gotten a major league-worst .562 out of its third basemen while the Yankees have gotten a .678 OPS, 24th out of 30 teams.

Carl Edwards, Jr.’s reason for skipping the Cubs’ visit to the White House is… interesting

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The Cubs oddly made an extra visit to the White House on Tuesday. After winning the World Series, the team visited then-President Barack Obama — a Chicago sports fan — in January before he left office. But they went back today for an “informal” visit with President Trump.

The Cubs, however, have ties to the Republican party and to Trump. The Ricketts family are Republican donors and Cubs owner Tom’s brother Todd was Trump’s nominee for deputy secretary of commerce. Manager Joe Maddon is also longtime friends with Lou Barletta, the Republican representative from Hazleton, PA.

Some players chose not to join their Cubs teammates for a trip to the White House. 10 players, to be exact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. None of those players declining to go offered a political reason, understandably so. But reliever Carl Edwards, Jr.’s excuse made a lot of sense. He said, “I’m trying to go see like the dinosaur museums.” Indeed, Edwards could have spent the afternoon at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Other players declining to visit the White House included Jake Arrieta, Hector Rondon, Jason Heyward, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and Addison Russell.