Presenting: your first place Arizona Diamondbacks

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Well, tied for first place, but they got the mojo.

The Dbacks have won four in a row and the Giants have dropped five straight.  The last two in each of those streaks came against the other, and now the defending World Series champs are deadlocked with Arizona.  I don’t necessarily believe in “statement games” or “statement series” — they seem like talk radio creations — but it’s worth noting that the Diamondbacks’ last trip to San Francisco resulted in a Giants sweep and the Dbacks dipping seven games under .500.  Since that sweep they are 46-27.

We all got warm fuzzies when the Pirates flirted with contending for a week or so.  The Diamondbacks weren’t expected to be any good this year either, yet here they are.  Contending.  Competing against a Giants team that has lost its gravity lately.

The calendar is just turning to August and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, but this Giants-Dbacks series feels like the 2011 pennant race making its formal introduction.

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.