Just two winter league playoff games tonight, since the Dominican League is done and the Puerto Rican League has a night off. That 7-game series is tied at 2 games each (Ponce and Caguas).
In other news, former Pirate Andy LaRoche signed a minor league deal with the Oakland A’s.
Caribes de Anzoategui 8, Tigres de Aragua 7 — Los Caribes took a 2-game lead in the championship series with tonight’s win over Los Tigres. Los Tigres began this game almost like last night’s, with a solo homer in the top of the 1st. Los Caribes came back with a 2-RBI double and an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, for a 3-1 lead. Aragua began the top of the 2nd with three consecutive walks, including to DH Hector Gimenez and LF Lastings Milledge. A throwing error on a pickoff attempt (trying to pick Milledge off first) allowed a run to score. Then Los Tigres took a 5-3 lead in the 3rd. A walk, a double, and a fielder’s choice brought in one run. A single loaded the bases, then a single by Gimenez and a walk by Milledge both drove in a run. But Los Caribes regained the lead in the 5th. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases. A hit batter forced in a run, then a bases-clearing double added 3 more runs, to give Los Caribes a 7-5 lead. A solo homer gave Los Caribes their final run in the 7th. Los Tigres scored twice more — one in the 7th on a walk, a single, and an RBI ground outs, then a solo homer in the top of the 8th. Wil Ledezma pitched the bottom of the 8th for Los Tigres. He hit the first batter he faced, then turned a bunt back to the mound into a force out at second base. Two strikeouts ended the inning.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Algodoneros de Guasave 12, Yaquis de Obregon 3 — Guasave picked up an early lead with 3 runs in the 2nd inning, on three singles and an error. They added to that lead with a run in the 4th and a solo homer in the 5th. Then they put the game out of reach with a 6-run 7th inning, which featured a lead-off triple, two RBI singles, a double, and a 3-run homer by 1B Yurendell de Caster. De Caster also drove in a run in the 8th with an RBI ground out. Obregon scratched out a run in the 6th and had a 2-run homer in the 8th, as they managed only 4 hits in the game. Each team committed 2 errors. Los Yaquis lead the 7-game series 2-1.
Gone for a few days, and all kinds of changes going on….
The Pirates have removed starting pitcher Zach Duke, infielder Andy LaRoche, and outfielder Delwyn Young from their 40-man roster.
Duke (photo) was the starting pitcher for the Indianapolis Indians on Opening Day in 2005, the beginning of the Pirates’ affiliation with the Indians. Duke faced the rehabbing Curt Schilling, and he and the Indians beat Schilling pretty easily.
The open spots on the 40-man roster, plus two other already open spots, went to a group of minor league pitchers:
Mike Crotta, a righty who made 4 starts for Altoona before he was promoted to Indianapolis. He made 24 starts for the Indians and pitched 131.1 innings, with a 4.93 ERA.
Daniel Moskos, who split the season between the Indy Indians and the Altoona Curve. The lefty was outstanding for the Curve, with a 1.52 ERA and 21 saves, though he struggled for the Indians, where he earned a 10.38 ERA in 17.1 innings of relief.
Tony Watson, another lefty who spent the season with the Curve. He made a few starts (9) but mostly worked in relief, earning a 2.67 ERA in 111.1 innings.
Jeff Locke, split the season between Altoona and the Bradenton Marauders. After earning a 3.54 ERA in 17 starts for Bradenton, Locke was promoted to AA, where the southpaw made an additional 10 starts and earned a consistent 3.59 ERA.
Kyle McPherson, a right-hander who spent most of the season with A-level West Virginia. McPherson made 21 starts and 5 relief appearances for the Power, with a 3.59 ERA in 117.2 innings, though he had some hot and cold swings. McPherson also pitched 4 scoreless innings for Bradenton in September.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Thursday’s winter league action….
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina 5, Senadores de San Juan 4 — Los Gigantes plated a run in the bottom of the 11th inning for the walk-off win. Carolina posted 15 hits, and 3 of those were by LF/RF Luis Matos. Benji Gonzalez came into the game to pinch-hit in the 8th inning, when he put down a sacrifice bunt in the rally that tied the game and eventually sent it into extra innings. Gonzalez remained in the game to play second base. He struck out in his only other plate appearance.
Bravos de Margarita 2, Tigres de Aragua 1 — A solo home run by Margarita’s DH Frank Diaz in the bottom of the 9th gave the win to Los Bravos. Los Tigres scored their only run in the 6th inning, when C Raul Chavez singled and came around to score on an RBI double. Margarita tied the score in the 7th with an RBI single. Chavez had a pair of singles in the game. LF Lastings Milledge and CF Jorge Cortes each had a single in the game. 1B Hector Gimenez was 0-for-4. Ronny Cedeno came in to pinch-run for Chavez after his single in the 8th, but did not score. Miguel Perez took over behind the plate for the rest of the game. Margarita’s Andy LaRoche did not get into the game.
Winter league action with the Pirates’ players and friends on Wednesday…
Tigres de Aragua� 6,� Bravos de Margarita� 0� (Game 1) — SS Ronny Cedeno’s 3-run homer in the 4th inning put the game away for Los Tigres.� Aragua scored one run in each of the first three innings.� A single, a sacrifice bunt by Cedeno, and an RBI single by DH Hector Gimenez plated the run in the 1st inning.� A walk, a single by CF Jorge Cortes, and an RBI ground out brought in the run in the 2nd.� Gimenez also drove in the run in the 3rd with another RBI single.� LF/RF Lastings Milledge was hitless in this game, as was Margarita’s 3B Andy LaRoche. Los Bravos were held to just 3 hits.
Tigres de Aragua� 2,� Bravos de Margarita� 0� (Game 2)� – RF Lastings Milledge blasted a solo homer over the left field wall in the top of the 1st, and that was all the scoring Los Tigres needed.� Milledge added another RBI in the 7th inning with a single to give Aragua some insurance, and he also walked in the 3rd inning.� Los Tigres needed only 5 hits in the game, with 1B Hector Gimenez getting one of those.� CF Jorge Cortes walked in three trips to the plate, but SS Cedeno and C Raul Chavez were both hitless.� 3B Andy LaRoche singled to lead off the 2nd inning for Margarita, but did not score.
Aguilas de Zulia� 5,� Navegantes del Magallanes� 1� — DH Mike Ryan scored Magallanes’ only run, which came in the 6th inning, when he singled, then scored on an RBI double.� Ryan also singled in the 1st inning.� Zulia scored one run in both the 1st and 2nd innings, then 2 more in the 6th, and one in the 7th.� Corey Hamman took the mound in relief in the 7th, with two outs and a runner on 2nd base.� He gave up an RBI single to the only batter he faced, though the run was charged to the previous pitcher.
Cheering for some Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action…�� The Australians are back in action on Thursday, which will be late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning for most of us.
Tigres de Aragua� 6,� Bravos de Margarita� 0� — A Pirate-filled game… 2B/3B Andy LaRoche singled twice and walked for Los Bravos, but his teammates could not get him or anyone else pushed across the plate.� LaRoche singled to lead off the 2nd inning, went to second on a fielding error, and to third on a wild pitch, but he was out at the plate on what seems to have been a wild pitch or passed ball.� LaRoche worked the second of two walks in the 4th inning, but was erased in an inning-ending double play.� Another double play took him off the bases in the 9th, after another lead-off single.� Meanwhile, the Pirates playing for Los Tigres also got off to a frustrating start.� DH Hector Gimenez walked in the 2nd, and LF Lastings Milledge followed by beating out a tapper back to the mound.� But a double play ended that inning without a run scoring.� It got better in the 5th, when Milledge walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on CF Jorge Cortes’ RBI double into right field.� A single and a home run by C Wilson Ramos gave Los Tigres 2 more runs in the 6th.� In the 8th, with two on (walk and single) and two outs, Jhonathan Ramos came on to pitch for Los Bravos.� Gimenez was the first batter he faced� — and he blasted a 3-run over the left field wall, to give Aragua a 6-0 lead.� Ramos got Milledge to ground out to end the inning, and he was relieved for the next inning.� So, one hit each for Gimenez, Milledge, and Cortes, but an 0-for-4 night for SS Ronny Cedeno.
Caribes de Anzoategui� 7,� Tiburones de La Guaira� 1� — The score was tied at 1-1 going into the bottom of the 8th, when Los Caribes exploded for 6 runs.� After a lead-off double, Adenson Chourio was brought in to pinch-hit.� He was intentionally walked, and a sacrifice bunt put both runners into scoring position.� Another intentional walk loaded the bases, then an unintentional walk forced in the go-ahead run.� An RBI grounder plated Chourio, then back-to-back homers, 3-run and solo, gave Los Caribes all the insurance they would need.