Uviedo Wins, Gimenez Homers

Not many winter league playoff games today, but a few player moves:
LHP Wil Ledezma had been DFA’ed right before Christmas, and yesterday he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays.
Both INF Delwyn Young and RHP Brian Bass signed minor league contracts with the Phillies today.  
Earlier in the week, RHP Joe Martinez, who had also been DFA’ed by the Pirates shortly before Christmas, was traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  11,  Bravos de Margarita  3  —  
Los Leones posted 14 hits, which was enough to make up for their 3 errors.  Three singles and a Bravos’ fielding error gave Los Leones their first 3 runs in the 2nd inning.  In the third, the first six Caracas batters reached base — a double, two singles, and three walks (including a walk by LF Mike Ryan) — then a sacrifice fly and another single gave Los Leones 5 runs.  A 3-run homer in the 8th capped their scoring.  Margarita scored one run in the 6th, with the help of one of those errors.  An error by Ryan in left field, plus a walk and two singles (one by C JR House) brought in two more runs in the 9th.  Ronald Uviedo earned the win for Caracas, going 6 innings and allowing only the unearned run in the 6th inning, on 3 hits and a walk, with 5 strikeouts.  

Caribes de Anzoategui  5,  Tigres de Aragua  4  —  New Blue Jay Wil Ledezma came into the game for Los Tigres in the 6th inning with one run in and runners on the corners.  Ledezma gave up a single, which broke a 4-4 tie, and eventually gave the win to Los Caribes.  Ledezma also retired the side in order in the 7th.  Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a single, a double, an error, and a sacrifice fly.   Los Tigres scored one run in the 2nd, when 1B Hector Gimenez walked, then scored on an RBI double.  Gimenez added a 2-run homer in the 4th, and another homer in the 5th gave Aragua their 4 runs.  LF Lastings Milledge singled and stole second base in the 6th, and advanced to third base on another single, but he got no further.  C Raul Chavez went 0-for-3 for Los Tigres. 

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Thompson Boosting Los Gigantes

A few Pirates’ players and friends appeared in Wednesday’s winter league playoff games:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE 
Leones del Caracas  2,  Aguilas de Zulia  0  (Game 1)–  
Another pitching duel tonight, with each team posting just 5 hits each.  Los Leones scored a run in the 6th on a single, a bunt, a ground out, and an RBI single.  They added another run in the 7th, on a ground-rule double, a sacrifice bunt by LF Mike Ryan (who was shifted over from Los Navegantes del Magallanes) and an RBI ground out.  Jose Ascanio pitched the top of the 8th for Caracas.  He gave up a lead-off single, but got the next batter to line into a double play at first base, and another line out ended the inning.  

Leones  14,  Aguilas 5  (Game 2)  —  Oh, that’s where all the hits went — to the second game, with 13 hits for each team.  Three Leones’ batters collected 3 hits each.  C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, scoring twice for Los Leones.  LF Mike Ryan also scored twice, with a single and a walk.  The 6-run 6th inning pushed Los Leones over the top, and it included 3 walks, a triple, a double, and Maldonado’s RBI single.  

Tigres de Aragua  4,  Bravos de Margarita  1  —  Los Tigres’ pitchers held Los Bravos to just 3 hits, and the only Margarita run came on two errors and an RBI single in the 5th.  Aragua scored their first run in the 3rd inning on a single and a double.  Four singles, including one by 1B Hector Gimenez, brought in 2 runs in the 5th.  A single, a stolen base, and an error gave Los Tigres their last run in the 8th inning.  LF Lastings Milledge and CF Jorge Cortes also had a single each in the game.   

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Estrellas de Oriente  2,  Toros del Este  1  —  
A double, a bunt, and an RBI single in the top of the 10th broke a 1-1 tie to give Los Estrellas the win.  A double, a bunt, and an RBI ground out brought in Los Estrellas’ first run in the 6th.  A pair of singles around a ground out pushed in a run for Los Toros in the 8th.  DH Ronny Paulino singled twice and walked for Los Estrellas, but was out at second base twice and left on base once.

Gigantes del Cibao  9,  Leones del Escogido  6  —  CF Rich Thompson is looking like a strong addition to Los Gigantes for their playoff drive.  He contributed a single, a double, 2 RBI, and a run in tonight’s win.  The game began with Thompson’s double, and a bunt and a throwing error allowed the speedy Thompson come around to score.  A ground out and a wild pitch gave Los Gigantes a second run in the top of the 1st.  Los Leones tied the score in the bottom of the inning.  Thompson gave Los Gigantes the lead again in the top of the 2nd, with an RBI ground out that followed 3 singles.  Escogido took the lead back in the bottom of the frame with 3 runs, for a 5-3 score.  Los Gigantes tied the score at 5-5 with two singles and two doubles in the 4th.  Then they recaptured the lead in the 5th, scoring 3 runs on a pair of two-out singles and a pair of fielding errors.  Thompson drove in Los Gigantes’ final run in the top of the 7th, with an RBI single following a double.  

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Milledge, Gimenez, and Paulino Get A Few Hits

The Pirates got the new year started by signing Brian Burres to a minor league contract.  He will be at the major league spring training camp, competing for a position on the big league club.

The Caribbean winter leagues continue their playoffs, and we continue to cheer for the Pirates’ players and friends who are involved…

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Toros del Este  8,  Gigantes del Cibao  1  —
 Los Gigantes scored a run on two singles and a throwing error in the 1st inning.  After that, it was all Los Toros.  Los Toros scored 2 in the 4th, 4 in the 7th, and 2 in the 8th, as they posted a total of 14 hits.  RF Rich Thompson singled for Los Gigantes in the 2nd inning, and he made a fielding error in the 4th.

Leones del Escogido  3,  Estrellas de Oriente  0  —  Los Estrellas recorded 5 hits, including a pair of singles by DH Ronny Paulino, but could not push any of their runners across the plate.  Los Leones had just 4 hits.  They used one, plus a hit batter and a fielding error, to score one run in the 5th.  Two more runs came in in the 6th inning, on a pair of walks, a sacrifice bunt, a balk, and a fielder’s choice.  

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Senadores de San Juan  4,  Criollos de Caguas  1  —  
Los Senadores’ 3-run 7th inning broke a 1-1 tie and earned them the win.  A single, two doubles, and three walks were responsible for the 3 runs.  Neither SS Luis Figueroa nor 3B Ramon Vazquez had a hit for Los Criollos.  

Gigantes de Carolina  9, Leones de Ponce  8  —  Finally, in the bottom of the 15th, a walk and two singles gave Los Gigantes the winning run.  Los Leones were leading 8-5 going into the bottom of the 9th.  Ponce reliever RJ Rodriguez had gotten out of a bases-loaded jam in the 8th with two pop outs.  He started the 9th with two ground outs, then gave up a single and a wild pitch, putting a runner on third base.  A double drove in that runner, then a walk and two singles tied the score, sending the game into extras, and putting Rodriguez on the hook for a Blown Save.  Each team had at least one runner on base in each of the next three innings, and Los Gigantes collected 3 walks to load the bases in the 11th, but no one scored.  Both teams went down in order in the 13th, then both teams continued to put runners on base, until Los Gigantes finished it off in the 15th.  Benji Gonzalez pinch-ran for Los Gigantes in the 8th, but was left on base.  He played second base for an inning, then was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

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Low-Hitting Playoff Games, Good Inning For Ascanio

Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in Sunday’s winter league play…

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE   (playoffs)
Criollos de Caguas  5,  Gigantes de Carolina  0  —  
Caguas’ starter Dylan Owen (Mets) pitched 7 no-hit innings, and two relievers finished the deal with a string of 6 consecutive ground outs.  Owen walked 2 Carolina batters, one to lead off the 2nd, and one to lead off the 7th.  Los Criollos scored one run in the 4th.  The bottom of the 5th began with a walk by 3B Ramon Vazquez, then a bunt and a throwing error put runners on the corners, and a walk loaded the bases.  SS Luis Figueroa bounced into a double play, but that let Vazquez score from third base.  Two RBI singles brought in two more runs.  A walk and two throwing errors (5 total errors for Los Gigantes) gave Caguas their final run in the 7th.

Leones de Ponce  5,  Senadores de San Juan  4  —  Los Leones were leading 4-2 going into the top of the 8th, which opened with a walk.  Los Leones brought in RJ Rodriguez to pitch, but he gave up a walk and made a throwing error, with allowed a run to come in.  A hit batter and an RBI grounder tied the score, and Rodriguez was charged with a Blown Save.  Rodriguez retired the side on three ground outs in the top of the 9th, and in the bottom of the 9th, he was saved.  A hit batter, a double, and a walk-off single gave Ponce and Rodriguez the win.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE (playoffs)
Estrellas de Oriente  2,  Leones del Escogido  1  —  
Not a lot of hits in this game either.  Los Leones were held to 3 hits, and scored one run in the 1st, on a single a walk, and a wild pitch.  Los Estrellas tied the score with a solo homer in the 3rd.  They took the lead in the 6th on back-to-back doubles, the first by DH Ronny Paulino.  Franquelis Osoria pitched to one batter in the 4th for Los Estrellas.  He threw a wild pitch, but got a strikeout.


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Wins For Ascanio And Ledezma, Loss For Nieve

Looking in on Pirates’ players and friend in Monday’s winter league action:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  6,  Cardenales de Lara  5  —  
Two runs in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Leones and Jose Ascanio the win.  Los Cardenales were leading 5-4 in the top of the 8th, when Ascanio came in from the bullpen with one out and a runner on first base.  Ascanio’s catcher picked the runner off first base, recorded as a caught stealing, then Ascanio got a ground out to end the inning.  He gave up a single in the top of the 9th, but kept Los Cardenales from scoring.  Then in the bottom of the 9th, with Ray Sadler coming in to play center field for Lara, Los Leones eked out a single and a walk.  A passed ball on ball four put runners on the corners for Los Leones.  A single into center field drove n the run from third, for the walk-off win.  Ascanio was the pitcher of record, so was credited with his first Venezuelan League win.  

Bravos de Margarita  4,  Caribes de Anzoategui  0  —  LF Jose Tabata went 0-for-3 with a walk for Los Caribes, who recorded 8 hits, but could not push any of their base runners across the plate.  They left a total of 11 runners on base and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  Los Bravos scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a double, two singles, a walk, and a fielding error.  A solo homer added a fourth run in the 6th.  Jhonathan Ramos came on to pitch for Margarita in the 7th, with two outs.  He loaded the bases with a single and two walks, then was relieved, but due to Los Caribes’ lack of luck, another reliever got Tabata to fly out to end the inning, leaving three runners on base.

Aguilas de Zulia  6,  Navegantes del Magallanes  3  —  Fernando Nieve struggled through 2.2 innings and was eventually charged with the loss for Magallanes.  He gave up a solo homer to the second batter of the game, then gave up two runs in the 2nd on two singles and a double.  Three singles and a double steal brought in two more runs for Zulia in the 3rd, and that was all for Nieve — 5 runs on 8 hits, no walks, with 4 strikeouts.  Two more singles added another run for Los Aguilas in the top of the 7th.  Los Navegantes started their scoring in the bottom of the 7th.  Former Pirate farmhand JR House, who made the jump over from the Dominican League, came into the game as a pinch-runner after a 2-out single.  A walk and an RBI single allowed House to score Magallanes’ first run.  House remained in the game to play first base, and he flied out in the 9th.  A walk, a double, and a fielding error gave Los Navegantes 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th.  

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Tiburones de La Guaira  3  —  Wil Ledezma also earned his first Venezuelan League win with 1.2 hitless and scoreless innings of work.  Los Tigres started scoring in the bottom of the 1st, when SS Ronny Cedeno reached base on a fielding error, then scored on a double.  C Raul Chavez blasted a 2-run homer in the 2nd, to give Aragua a 3-0 lead.  Los Tiburones scored 2 runs in the top of the 3rd on three singles and two walks, then tied the score in the top of the 4th on a double, a bunt, and an RBI ground out.  Ledezma came in from the bullpen in the 4th, and ended the 4th, then retired the side in order in the 5th.  He was still the pitcher of record when Los Tigres scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th.  Chavez walked, and moved to second base on CF Jorge Cortes’ sacrifice bunt.  Cedeno singled, putting runners on the corners, then a sacrifice fly plated Chavez.  A 2-run homer by DH Wilson Ramos brought in Cedeno.  1B Hector Gimenez also doubled after the homer.  Three walks, including one by Gimenez, and a wild pitch gave Los Tigres an insurance run in the 8th.  

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