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DSL Prospect Watch: Vivas, Herrera Keep Pirates2 Alive in 6-5 Victory Over Tigers

The Dominican Summer League playoffs continued today as the Pirates2 returned home facing elimination against the Tigers DSL affiliate after losing 10-0 yesterday in the opener of a best-of-three game series. The Pirates2 went with 19-year-old righty Julio Vivas on the mound. He went 5-2, 2.30 on the year and pitched even better at home, going 2-0, 0.75 in six starts. Pittsburgh_Pirates10

After being hit around all game yesterday, it was the Pirates2 that got on the board early, scoring two first inning runs. Gustavo Barrios had a one out walk and after an infield fly made it two outs, Alexis Bastardo was hit by a pitch. That brought up designated hitter Jhoan Herrera, who brought home both runs with a double. The 18-year-old Herrera was one of the highest priced International free agents signed last year by the Pirates. During the regular season he had 36 RBI’s in 64 games.

In the third inning, it was again Herrera’s bat that helped the Pirates2 out. After a walk from Carlos Munoz and Bastardo being hit again, Herrera singled up the middle to make it 3-0 early.

Julio Vivas came through big against a Tigers team that had four homers yesterday. He went five innings and allowed just three base runners, a fifth inning single and two hit batters. Vivas struck out four and had six groundball outs.

In the fifth inning, Herrera led off with a walk and went to third base on a double from Jose Salazar, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Steven De La Mota brought home the Pirates2 fourth run with a sacrifice fly. They would score one more run before the inning was through thanks to three walks, the last to Gustavo Barrios

The Pirates2 went to Francis Rodriguez for the sixth inning. They have a five inning limit for pitchers, so despite doing so well, Vivas was out of the game.  Rodriguez wasn’t sharp, giving up two runs in his first inning of work, though the second run scored on a throwing error by Jose Salazar. Rodriguez was able to get out of a jam by striking out the last two batters, then he settled down in the seventh, retiring the side in order.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Pirates2 got a single from Steven De La Mota to start the inning. Pinch-runner Eduardo Figueroa came on for him. Bealyn Chourio had a one out single to put runners on the corners. That brought up top prospect Michael de la Cruz, who hit a grounder that the Tigers tried to turn a double play on, but de la Cruz beat the throw and Figueroa scored to make it 6-2. The Pirates2 drew two walks after that play to load the bases, but a ground out by Alexis Bastardo ended the threat and their chance to break the game open.

Francis Rodriguez remained in the game in the eighth inning and gave up a lead-off triple, a walk and a double without recording an out. That brought in reliever Andres Mendoza, who was recently shifted from the Pirates1. Since joining the Pirates2, he has thrown 6.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk, while striking out eight batters.

Mendoza had runners on second and third with no outs, so he was put in a tough spot trying to protect a three run lead. Before he could record an out, Mendoza uncorked a wild pitch that made the score 6-4. A single made it 6-5 and the batter advanced to second on an error, putting the tying run in scoring position, still with no outs. Mendoza walked the next batter, then recorded his first out on a sacrifice attempt, getting the runner at third base. That turned the inning around, as Mendoza struck out the next two batters to keep the Pirates2 in the lead.

After the Pirates2 failed to score in the bottom of the eighth, Mendoza remained on for the two inning save. He struck out the lead-off batter, then gave up a single. Mendoza then walked a batter, putting the tying run in scoring position. Just like the previous inning, in the same exact one out, two runner on situation, Mendoza shut the door with two strikeouts to end the game.

Jhoan Herrera drove in three runs on two doubles and a single, plus he added a walk. Gustavo Barrios drew three walks and Michael de la Cruz reached base twice, plus drove in a run. The Tigers made it close, but the early lead held up and Julio Vivas picked up the win with his five shutout innings.

Game three of the series is tomorrow at the Tigers facility. Winner will go on to the second round of the playoffs.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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