Ayalaâ€™s Return Gives Sparky Lyle’s Team Big Boost
If anyone heard what sounded like a collective sigh of relief recently, it probably came from the Somerset Patriots clubhouse because pesky Elliott Ayala had shaken off the effects of being hit squarely on the mouth with a pitch sufficiently to get back in the lineup.
â€œThatâ€™s a guy that we need,â€ Manager Sparky Lyle told MyCentralJersey.com during the 5-foot-9 infielder-outfielderâ€™s week on the sidelines.Â â€œWeâ€™re winning without him now, but itâ€™s not an unknown fact that heâ€™s always in the middle of everything.â€
Ayala has already helped Somerset to a pair of Atlantic League championships, and is being counted on to carry some of the load as the Patriots try to three-peat, which would be their sixth title overall.Â Ayala, either 30 or 31 depending on the source, has gone 6-for-22 (.273) in six games since his return, which is barely below his .283 season average.Â He has contributed 56 runs and 31 RBI in 105 games.
Alums Patterson, Watson, Pascucci Contributing
While catcher Mike Rivera (Atlantic City) is the only Atlantic League grad who has benefitted from the September expansion of major league rosters so far, various 2010 alums of the league are prominent in affiliated playoffs.
Former Lancaster closer Scott Pattersonâ€™s two scoreless innings (three strikeouts) saved Tacomaâ€™s first Pacific Coast League playoff victory, a series the Seattle farmhands now lead, 2-0.Â Playoff foe Sacramento has Barnstormers outfielder Matt Watson hitting cleanup (2-for-8, one RBI).
Patterson had a positive season after leaving Lancaster, winning two of three decisions and saving six games in 29 appearances (2.67 ERA) and his typical solid control, but just as big of an impression had to be left by early-season Camden outfielder Valentino Pascucci, who homered every 11.2 at-bats for the New York Metsâ€™ Buffalo farm club.Â The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Pascucci hit 17 round-trippers in only 72 games, and with three homers for the Riversharks now has 235 for his professional career.
This â€˜n That
It does not appear San Diego plans to add Wily Mo Pena to its roster despite the fact the 28-year-old slugger hit .324 (.365 with runners in scoring position) with nine homers and 34 RBI in 40 games for Portland, OR after purchasing his contract from Bridgeportâ€¦The Hoorelbeke brothers are in the independent Northern League playoffs, one year after playing at Bridgeport.Â Casey led the Northern League in earned run average (1.84), a tough feat for a reliever, but he qualified with 83 innings and allowed only 56 hits while winning 10 of 15 decisions and saving seven games. Jesse was second in home runs (29), then hit a three-run blast in the opening playoff victory for Fargo, ND.
(These are excerpts from the Atlantic League Notebook.Â Subscriptions to the full Notebook are available via www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com or www.WirzandAssociates.com.Â Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)