Craig Kimbrel gave up a single, two walks and then a sacrifice fly to Chase Utley, allowing the Phillies to tie the Braves 3-3 in the top of the ninth.
Kimbrel remained in afterwards, but he was pulled after another walk, this one to Hunter Pence, loaded the bases. Kris Medlen, making just his second appearance back from Tommy John surgery, got Michael Martinez to pop-up to end the top of the ninth. Martinez previously entered the game as a pinch-runner for Ryan Howard.
The Braves will send up Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and maybe Jack Wilson in the bottom of the ninth. With the Cardinals up seven, the Braves will almost certainly have to win tonight in order to force a playoff.
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.