UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Ayala gets a one-year, $925,000 deal with a team option for 2013.
Last offseason Luis Ayala could manage only a minor-league deal with the Yankees, but after throwing 56 innings with a 2.09 ERA he had multiple suitors this offseason and Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that he’s agreed to sign a big-league contract with the Orioles.
Prior to last season Ayala hadn’t posted an ERA below 5.00 since 2007 and he didn’t pitch in the majors at all in 2010, but the 33-year-old right-hander posted the highest strikeout rate of his career at 6.3 per nine innings and did a nice job keeping the ball on the ground for New York.
Based on his secondary numbers Ayala is a prime candidate to regress significantly in 2012, but even if his luck dries up he’s capable of being a useful middle reliever. His addition also seemingly makes it less likely that the Orioles will reacquire Koji Uehara from the Rangers.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.
Pirates first baseman John Jaso hit for the cycle on Wednesday night against the Cubs, becoming the first Pirate to do so since Daryl Ward against the Cardinals on May 26, 2004. Jaso’s cycle is the first to be hit at PNC Park. It’s also the third cycle of the 2016 season, as Jaso joins Freddie Freeman and Rajai Davis.
Jaso singled in the second inning for his first hit. He smashed a three-run homer in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. He hit an RBI double in the fifth to push the Cubs’ lead to 5-1. Then, in the seventh, Jaso hit an RBI triple to make it an 8-4 game.
Coming into Wednesday night, Jaso was hitting an adequate .259/.342/.384 with six home runs and 35 RBI in 416 plate appearances. He’s been limited mostly to right-handed pitching as the Pirates have used David Freese and Josh Bell at the position as well.