Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in the few winter league playoff games on Sunday….
Gigantes del Cibao 8, Toros del Este 2 — A 7-run 7th inning by Los Gigantes included a 2-run homer and a 3-run homer, and it gave them all the firepower they would need. Former Indy Indian Tim Harikkala finished the 5th inning after Los Toros scored their runs, then loaded the bases with a double and two walks in the 6th, though another reliever was able to end the inning without a run scoring. Juan Perez pitched the 8th inning for Los Gigantes and struck out the side.
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Leones de Ponce 7, Gigantes de Carolina 6 — 2B Benji Gonzalez singled and tripled for Los Gigantes, but Ponce pulled it out with 2 runs in the bottom of the 10th. Los Gigantes began the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st. They added a run in the 6th on a single and Gonzalez’s RBI triple. A double and a single gave them another run in the 7th. Los Leones scored one run in the 5th, then tied the score with 3 walks and a grand slam in the 7th. The game went into extra innings, but Carolina quickly scored a run in the top of the 10th with a single and a double. But in the bottom of the frame, Ponce had a runner reach base on an error, and a 2-run homer gave them the walk-off win. Gonzalez also singled in the 4th but was caught stealing.
Senadores de San Juan 8, Criollos de Caguas 2 — Another game with 3 runs scored in the top of the 1st, and Los Criollos were chasing Los Senadores for the rest of the game. Los Criollos scored their runs in the 7th, on a pair of doubles and an RBI single by 3B Ramon Vazquez. SS Luis Figueroa singled in the 4th, but was left on base.
The Dominican and Puerto Rican Leagues wind up their round-robin playoff series this weekend, while the Venezuelans continue theirs for another week or so.
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Criollos de Caguas 5, Gigantes de Carolina 2 — Los Criollos began the scoring with a fly out-RBI for 3B Ramon Vazquez after two singles. An RBI single gave them a run in the 3rd, and a 2-run homer made it 4-0 in the 5th. Los Criollos wrapped it up with a run in the top of the 7th, on two singles, a walk, and a throwing error. Carolina scratched out a run in both the 7th and 8th innings. SS Luis Figueroa singled and walked for Los Criollos, but did not score.
Leones de Ponce 7, Senadores de San Juan 2 — A 4-run inning in the top of the 8th gave Los Leones the win. San Juan out-hit Ponce, 10 – 9, but they couldn’t bring the runners around, leaving 11 on base. RJ Rodriguez pitched the bottom of the 9th for Ponce, but gave up three consecutive singles to open the inning, which drove in one run. He struck out two, then loaded the bases with another single, then ended the inning with a grounder force out.
Aguilas de Zulia 7, Bravos de Margarita 4 — Los Bravos got the game started with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on three singles and two throwing errors. But Los Aguilas scored a run in the bottom of the 1st, another in the 3rd, and took the lead with a 3-run homer in the 5th. They added a run on a double and a triple in the 6th, and their 7th run on a double, a hit batter, and a single in the 7th. Jhonathan Ramos came on in relief for Los Bravos after that run scored in the 7th, and he ended the inning with a ground out. Ramos came back out to begin the bottom of the 8th. The first batter of the inning reached on a fielding error, then Ramos gave up a single. A ground out and a line out followed, and then Ramos was relieved. Another ground out ended the inning without a run scoring.
Caribes de Anzoategui 6, Leones de Caracas 5 — This one took 13 innings to decide. Los Leones broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 8th when C Carlos Maldonado started a rally with a single. He was replace by a pinch-runner, who scored on an RBI single. Los Caribes tied the score again with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, and the game went into extras. Neither team could get much going in the 10th or 11th, and though Los Caribes threatened in the bottom of the 12th, they still could not get a run across. Los Leones broke the tie in the top of the 13th. A double, an intentional walk, and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases. A grounder to third was fired back to the plate, for a force out at home. Then LF Mike Ryan, who had already singled twice and walked three times in the game, grounded to second base. The runner going from first to second was out, but Ryan was able to beat out the throw to first, and a run scored. But Los Caribes were not done yet — a single and two walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, and a line drive single into left field drove in two runs for the win. Jose Ascanio pitched a perfect inning in the bottom of the 8th for Caracas.
Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in winter league playoff action …
Tigres de Aragua 5, Bravos de Margarita 4 — A double and a single in the top of the 10th gave Los Tigres the winning run. Los Tigres had started the scoring in the top of the 1st, on three singles, including an RBI single by LF Lastings Milledge. Los Bravos countered with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 4th. Milledge tied the score with a solo home run in the top of the 6th. With Jean Machi on the mound for Margarita in the top of the 8th, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch put a Tigres’ batter on third base, and he scored on an RBI single. Machi came back to pitch a quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 9th. Los Bravos tied the score again in the bottom of the 9th on a solo homer. Los Tigres broke the tie in the top of the 10th, then held off Los Bravos in the bottom of the frame. Wil Ledezma pitched a perfect 6th inning for Los Tigres, then gave up a 2-out single in the 7th. C Raul Chavez and 1B Hector Gimenez picked that runner off first base to get Los Tigres out of the inning. Gimenez went 0-for-4 at the plate, and Chavez went 0-for-2. Miguel Perez came into the game as a late-inning defensive replacement behind the plate, but did not have a plate appearance.
Leones del Caracas 10, Caribes de Anzoategui 6 — Seven runs in the top of the 1st gave Los Leones an edge that Los Caribes could not overcome. Los Leones sent 11 batters to the plate in the 1st inning, and the first 6 batters reached base safely: single, single, walk, grand slam, single, single (by C Carlos Maldonado). After a pop out, LF Mike Ryan hit a 2-run homer, which was followed by a double, before the inning ended. Maldonado added another RBI single in the 2nd inning, and Caracas picked up another 2-run homer in the top of the 9th. Los Caribes scored in all but one of the first 6 innings, but four of those innings brought in just one run, not enough to catch up.
Just a few winter league playoff games on Monday night.. The Mexican Pacific and Puerto Rican leagues were off tonight.
Gigantes del Cibao 6, Estrellas de Oriente 5 — The game began with a solo home run from the first batter of the game, plus another run in the top of the 1st for Los Estrellas. Los Gigantes tied the score with 2 runs in the bottom of the 2nd. Eight scoreless innings followed, until Los Estrellas scored 3 runs in the top of the 11th, all charged to Los Gigantes’ Juan Perez, on one hit and 3 walks. Ronny Paulino pinch-hit in the inning but struck out. Perez was saved from being charged with the loss when Los Gigantes answered with 4 runs in the bottom of the 11th. One hit and 5 walks contributed to those 4 runs.
Leones del Caracas 8, Aguilas de Zulia 5 — These two teams combined for 29 hits, as Los Caracas cut short Los Aguilas’ 9th inning rally and held on for the win. Caracas scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a double, two singles, a hit batter, and a sacrifice fly. They added 3 more runs in the 3rd on three solo homers (not back-to-back), including one by C Carlos Maldonado. Solo homer number four came in the 5th inning. Maldonado drove in Los Leones’ final run with an RBI double after a single in the 7th. Los Aguilas scored one run in the 5th and another in the 8th. They rallied in the top of the 9th with a pair of singles and a 3-run homer, plus a double, but that was all Caracas would allow.
Tigres de Aragua 4, Bravos de Margarita 1 — Los Tigres began the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on two singles and three doubles. 1B Hector Gimenez drove in a run with his RBI single, and LF Lastings Milledge doubled. Los Tigres went on to record 11 hits. Milledge singled in the 4th, but was out at second when CF Jorge Cortes bounced into a double play. A single and a double added another run for Los Tigres in the 8th. Jhonathan Ramos pitched 2 innings for Los Bravos. In the 6th, he retired Los Tigres in order. Ramos began the top of the 7th with two ground outs (Gimenez and Milledge), then gave up a single to Cortes, another single, and hit C Raul Chavez with a pitch to load the bases. But he ended the inning with a pop out, leaving all three runners on base. Los Bravos were held to just 3 hits over the first 8 innings. Two of those hits came in the 4th, when Los Bravos loaded the bases on a hit batter, a walk, and a single. A sacrifice fly drove in their only run of the game. Another single loaded the bases again, but a strikeout ended the inning. Los Bravos threatened again in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases again on 2 singles and an error. Los Tigres got out of the jam with a pop out in foul territory and a game-ending double play.
The Pirates’ mini-camp begins tomorrow in Bradenton…. just 35 days until Spring Training begins, 81 days until major league opening day, and 87 days until the minor league opening day (not that anyone here is counting, of course….)
Meanwhile, the Caribbean leagues continue with their playoffs. The Mexican Pacific League will begin the semifinal round on Tuesday.
Caribes de Anzoategui 5, Leones del Caracas 4 — LF Mike Ryan singled in the bottom of the 1st for Los Leones, and a walk, another single, and an error gave Los Caribes 2 runs in that inning. They added a solo homer in the 5th, followed by a run on a single, two walks, and a sacrifice fly. Then Los Caribes roared back at Los Leones in the top of the 6th. A solo homer opened the inning, then a walk and a strikeout were followed by three singles and 2-RBI double, then a sacrifice fly, for 5 runs total. C Carlos Maldonado went 0-for-4 for Los Leones.
Bravos de Margarita 4, Aguilas de Zulia 3 — Jean Machi was credited with the win, as he was the pitcher of record when Los Bravos won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th. Los Aguilas scored 3 runs in the top of the 4th, with a solo homer, and a 2-RBI single. Three singles gave Los Bravos their first run in the bottom of the 3rd. With two outs in the bottom of the 5th, three consecutive singles, a fielding error, and a balk brought in 2 more runs for Margarita to tie the score. Machi came on to pitch the 8th and 9th innings for Los Bravos. He faced just 6 batters, allowing a single, but then erasing that runner with a double play. The bottom of the 9th began with a single, then two bunts, one with a throwing error by the Aguilas’ pitcher, put two runners in scoring position. An intentional walk loaded the bases, and an RBI single ended the game.
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Criollos de Caguas 4, Senadores de San Juan 3 — Each team had a 3-run homer — Los Criollos’ came in the 4th inning, and Los Senadores’ came in the bottom of the 9th. The deciding run came in the top of the 6th by Los Criollos. A double, an intentional walk to 3B Ramon Vazquez, and an RBI single drove in the winning run. Vazquez walked twice in the game, while SS Luis Figueroa walked once, but neither had a hit.