Zack Wheeler sets career-high with 12 strikeouts as Mets win

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Mets rookie starter Zack Wheeler was on point tonight against the Padres, holding them to one run on seven hits and a walk over six innings. He eclipsed his previous career-best seven strikeouts, set in his Major League debut on June 18 against the Braves, getting number eight with a fourth-inning punch-out of Jedd Gyorko. He finished with 12 on the night, the 36th 12-strikeout or better game this season. Wheeler lowered his ERA to 3.43 in the effort.

The game was locked at 1-1 through seven innings. In the top of the eighth with two outs, Mike Baxter stole second base after being hit by a Luke Gregerson slider. Rather than pitch to the left-handed Daniel Murphy, Padres manager Bud Black opted to intentionally walk him to face Marlon Byrd. Byrd promptly made the Padres pay, driving a 1-1 cutter over right fielder Chris Denorfia’s head for a two-run double, putting the Mets up 3-1.

Reliever Gonzalez Germen pitched a scoreless eighth, dancing out of some two-out trouble. John Buck added some insurance with a solo home run to left in the top of the ninth. Without LaTroy Hawkins, the Mets asked German to come back out for another inning. The right-hander promptly retired the side in short order for a 4-1 Mets victory, notching the first save of his career and becoming the fifth different Met to record a save on the season.

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.