Checking in with a few Pirates’ players and friends in winter league action:
Tigres de Aragua 6, Leones del Caracas 1
LF Lastings Milledge went 2-for-4 for Los Tigres, and another former Pirate farmhand, 1B Hector Gimenez, also had a hit in this game. Milledge started the scoring for Aragua, with a double in the 2nd inning. He came around to score on a sacrifice fly. A walk and a pair of doubles brought in 2 runs in the 2nd inning, giving Aragua a 3-0 lead. A single, a double, and another sacrifice fly in the 4th boosted the lead to 4-0. Milledge was hit by a pitch and Gimenez walked in the 5th, but neither scored in that frame. Los Tigres scored again with one run in the 8th, then both Milledge and Gimenez singled in the 9th, with Gimenez picking up an RBI. Caracas scored their only run in the bottom of the 9th with a walk and a double. Pirates’ Ramon Cabrera came on as a pinch-hitter for Los Leones in the 8th and lined a single into right field, but he was erased in a double play.
Caribes de Anzoategui 4, Aguilas de Zulia 3
Los Caribes did all their scoring in the 3rd inning. A pair of walks, including one to CF Gorkys Hernandez, opened the inning, and after a bunt moved both runners into scoring position, an intentional walk loaded the bases. A double drove in two of the runners, and a single pushed in two more. Hernandez walked again in the 4th, and he singled in the 6th, but was picked off and caught stealing. Pirates’ Exicardo Cayones made his winter league debut for Los Caribes as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning, when he popped up a bunt. Zulia scored 2 runs in the 6th, and one more in the bottom of the 9th. After a lead-off single, former Pirate Carlos Maldonado lined a pinch-hit single into center field and was replaced by a pinch-runner. Another single brought in the run. Pirates’ Diego Moreno pitched the top of the 9th for Los Aguilas. He gave up two singles, but got two strikeouts, including Hernandez, and did not allow a run to score.
Leones del Escogido 6, Gigantes del Cibao 2
CF Starling Marte contributed a double, two singles, and 2 RBI to Los Leones’ offensive attack, while 3B Andy Marte added a single and a double. Marte’s double helped to load the bases with Leones in the 2nd inning, but a strikeout ended that threat with all three runners left on base. Los Leones did not miss opportunities in the 4th, when they sent 10 batters to the plate. With one out, Andy Marte hit the middle of three consecutive singles, and one run scored. Another single brought in two urns, and Starling Marte’s double drove in two more. A single and a double gave Los Leones their 6th run in the 5th inning. Starling Marte singled in the 6th, and singled and stole second base in the 8th.
Toros del Este 5, Tigres del Licey 4
A 2-run double in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Toros a walk-off win over Los Tigres. A wild pitch on strike three put a runner on first, then a walk gave Los Toros two runners on base. C Salvador Paniagua’s double drove in both runners for the tying and go-ahead runs. Chris Leroux made the start for manager Dean Treanor’s Toros, going 5 innings. Leroux retired the first 8 batters he faced before giving up a walk in the 3rd. That runner was quickly caught stealing. Another batter reached on a fielding error by Matt Hague, who was playing third base for Los Toros for the first time. That runner was also thrown out stealing. The only hit Leroux gave up was a solo homer with two outs in the 5th. Los Toros scored an unearned run in the bottom of the 1st, on a single, a throwing error, and an RBI ground out. Two singles brought in a second run in the 2nd inning. Los Toros also had a solo homer in the bottom of the 5th. Licey took a 4-3 lead with 3 runs in the top of the 6th, after Leroux had sat down. Another fielding error by Hague plus four singles brought in those runs for Licey. There was no more scoring until the bottom of the 9th, when Los Toros struck back. Pirates’ Andy Vasquez pinch ran for Los Toros in the bottom of the 8th, and he too was caught stealing second base.