Orioles are now willing to give up their pick to sign a pitcher

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The Orioles have arguably had the worst off-season of any Major League team. They had the much-publicized contract snafus with closer Grant Balfour and outfielder Tyler Colvin, backing out of contracts with both at the last minute. They traded closer Jim Johnson and, as some have stated, whiffed on the return.

Most importantly, though, the Orioles have needed to bolster their starting rotation and they have not done that. They recently signed Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, but it remains to be seen how he will contribute. They were interested in Bronson Arroyo, but he signed with the Diamondbacks, citing the Balfour and Colvin issues as a deterrent from playing in Baltimore. They were interested in A.J. Burnett, who wanted to play near his home in Maryland, but lost that battle to the Phillies.

Now, with few options and the regular season drawing ever closer, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Orioles are willing to give up their first round pick, 17th overall, to sign an impact starting pitcher like Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. As Rosenthal notes, the Orioles are built to compete within the window of the 2014-15 seasons. They would be foolish to enter the regular season without having addressed their most glaring need. Rosenthal adds that if the Orioles decide to stay in-house, they could turn to 2012 first rounder Kevin Gausman to round out the rotation. Still, their depth behind Gausman is lacking and would find themselves  scrambling in the event of an injury.

Red Sox beat Yankees 11-6 to clinch AL East for third consecutive season

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The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.

AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.

With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.