Diamondbacks add A’s reliever Brad Ziegler, make room for Paul Goldschmidt

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Feeling they have an even better one on the way, the Diamondbacks traded their starting first baseman to the A’s for a setup man on Sunday.  The three-player deal sent Brad Ziegler to Arizona in return for Brandon Allen and left-hander Jordan Norberto.

Allen had three homers and seven RBI in 29 at-bats since his callup earlier this month, but he was hitting just .172, leaving him with a .213/.325/.404 line in 178 at-bats with the Diamondbacks over the last three years.  He’s not a surprising A’s target, in that his game is much more about power and walks than batting average.  Unfortunately, he does strike out a lot and he may fall short of being a quality regular as a result.

The move opens up first base in Arizona for Paul Goldschmidt.  The Diamondbacks debated long and hard whether to try Allen or Goldschmidt at first base when they decided to give up on Juan Miranda.  Allen was having a fine season in Triple-A, but Goldschmidt was simply dominant in Double-A, hitting .306/.435/.626 with 30 homers and 94 RBI in 366 at-bats.  A right-handed hitter, he’ll probably take over as an everyday player for the Diamondbacks.  They had been platooning the right-handed-hitting Xavier Nady with the lefty-swinging Allen.

The Diamondbacks also sent Norberto to Oakland.  The 24-year-old reliever made 33 appearances for Arizona last year, amassing a 5.85 ERA in 20 innings, but he had spent all of this season in Triple-A and had a 4.25 ERA and a 54/26 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings.

In return, GM Kevin Towers gets Arizona the setup man he believed the team needed to help David Hernandez in front of J.J. Putz.  Ziegler is very vulnerable to left-handed hitters with his sidearm delivery, but he shuts down right-handers about as well as anyone and he’s yet to allow a homer in 37 2/3 innings this season.  He has a career 2.49 ERA in four seasons since debuting in 2008, and he’s under control through 2014.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.