A full Saturday night of action in the winter leagues:
Tiburones de La Guaira 9, Tigres de Aragua 5 — Three runs in the bottom of the 8th put the game out of reach for Los Tigres. Aragua put their first run on the board in the top of the 1st, when SS Ronny Cedeno singled, and came around to score on a wild pitch. Los Tiburones took the lead with 2 runs in the bottom of the inning and added their third run in the 2nd. Los Tigres tied the score in the top of the 5th. A single and two walks (one to 1B Hector Gimenez) loaded the bases, then back-to-back sacrifice flies (one by LF Lastings Milledge) brought in two runs. The tie did not last long — two doubles and a 2-run homer gave the lead back to La Guaira in the bottom of the frame. Aragua got within one run again in the 6th, with a walk, a passed ball, an RBI single by Gimenez and an RBI ground out, but it wasn’t enough when La Guaira scored again in their last at-bat. Cedeno singled again in the 8th, and was hit by a pitch. Gimenez walked twice more in the game, and C Raul Chavez singled and walked twice.
Navegantes del Magallanes 6, Caribes de Anzoategui 5 — Two singles and a 2-RBI double in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Navegantes the walk-off win. Los Caribes were onto the scoreboard first with a solo homer in the 2nd. Magallanes scored 3 unearned runs in the bottom of the 3rd, on two errors, three wild pitches by Caribes’ starter Chris Hayes, two walks, and a single. Magallanes added a run in the 4th, on two more walks and a single. LF Jose Tabata led off the top of the 6th for Los Caribes with a double. A single and a ground out drove in Tabata, then a walk, two singles, and a wild pitch gave Los Caribes 3 more runs, for a 5-4 lead. Corey Hamman relieved the Magallanes’ pitcher, and ended the 6th inning with a strikeout. He went on to pitch two more scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, with a total of 3 strikeouts. Tabata singled again and stole second base in the top of the 9th, but was left on base.
Aguilas de Zulia 3, Bravos de Margarita 2 — Jhonathan Ramos suffered the loss for Los Bravos. He had entered the game to finish the bottom of the 7th with a ground out, and the bottom of the 8th began with a batter reaching on a fielding error. A single and a triple brought in 2 runs for Zulia to break a 1-1 tie. Margarita scored an unearned run in the top of the 9th, but a double play ended the game before they could tie the score again.
Lots of Pirates and former Pirates pitching in Friday’s winter league action… This is the last week of regular season play for the Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues.
Caribes de Anzoategui 8, Tiburones de La Guaira 5 — (Game 1) A 5-run 6th inning gave Los Caribes the edge in the first game of the double header. Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on a single, a walk by DH Jose Tabata, and a 3-run homer. The 6th inning began with a double, a hit batter, and a walk to load the bases. Two sacrifice flies, an RBI single, and a sacrifice bunt aided by a throwing error by Los Tiburones’ pitcher added four more runs. Tabata also singled in the inning. La Guaira scored 2 runs in the 4th and rallied for 3 in the bottom of the 7th, but could not catch up.
Tiburones 9, Caribes 2 — (Game 2) Ryan Vogelsong earned his 6th win for Los Tiburones. He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk over 6 innings. Tabata did not get into the night-cap.
Leones de Caracas 6, Aguilas de Zulia 2 — Another former Pirate pitcher earned the win — Ronald Uviedo also pitched 6 innings and allowed 2 runs. He gave up 8 hits and a walk. Los Leones scored one run in the 1st, two in the 2nd, and 3 in the 5th. C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, and scored one run.
Bravos de Margarita 9, Cardenales de Lara — Both teams put up big innings and posted a total of 12 hits each. Lara had a 5-run 3rd inning, which began with CF Ray Sadler being hit by a pitch. Three singles and a throwing error brought in 2 runs, a sacrifice fly plated a third run, and a 2-run homer made it 5 runs. Three consecutive doubles, including one by Sadler, plus a sacrifice fly gave Los Cardenales 3 runs in the 4th. Los Bravos began their scoring with a run in the 2nd, then 3 runs in the 3rd on three singles, an error, and a wild pitch. They added 4 more in the next inning, on three singles and three walks. After the bottom of the 4th, the score was tied at 8-8. Los Bravos scored what would turn out to be the winning run in the top of the 5th, on a walk, a double, and an RBI ground out. Romulo Sanchez pitched to three batters and got three outs in the top of the 9th for Los Cardenales. Anthony Claggett took the mound for Los Bravos in the bottom of the 6th, with two on and one out. He got two outs to end the inning, then pitched the next two innings, allowing only one walk, no hits, with three strikeouts. Ronald Belisario earned his 14th save with a scoreless 9th inning for Los Bravos.
Tigres de Aragua 7, Navegantes del Magallanes 5 — New Pirate Fernando Nieve made the start for Los Navegantes and pitched 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. A double and an RBI single by CF Jorge Cortes gave Los Tigres their first run in the 2nd inning. Nieve gave up a 2-run homer to 1B Hector Gimenez in the 3rd inning. Gimenez got to him again in the 5th, with an RBI single that followed a lead-off double. Los Tigres scored 3 more runs after Nieve departed. Cortes walked to lead off the 6th, then scored on a bunt and an RBI single. Two runs scored in the 7th. A double, Gimenez’s third hit of the game, a wild pitch, and LF Lasting Milledge’s sacrifice fly plated the runs. Los Navegantes also scored one run in the 2nd inning, when LF Mike Ryan led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error. Magallanes scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a pair of singles, a double, and a fielding error by Milledge. Reliever Wil Ledezma took the mound in relief for Aragua after those three runs had scored, and he worked around another error to get two outs and prevent further runs from scoring.
Another minor league free agent signed: Pitcher Neal Cotts signed with the Yankees.
Looking in on some of the Pirates’ players and friends in Thursday’s winter league action.. the Dominican League has the night off, and there were some games postponed in Venezuela.
Leones del Caracas 9, Aguilas de Zulia 5 – A 4-run 8th inning made the difference for Los Leones. Jose Ascanio pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th for Caracas. He gave up a walk and a single with one out, but then got a double play to get out of the inning.
Cardenales de Lara 3, Tigres de Aragua 0 — LF Lastings Milledge, 1B Hector Gimenez, and C Raul Chavez each posted a single for Los Tigres, but none could come around to score. Both Milledge and Gimenez had their singles in the 4th, after a walk. The lead runner tried to score from second on Milledge’s single, but Lara CF Ray Sadler’s throw to the plate was right on targer, and the runner was out at home. Sadler went 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 2, Indios de Mayaguez 1 (Game 1) — Los Indios scored a run with a lead-off triple and a single in the top of the 1st, then did not score again for the rest of the game, despite out-hitting Los Criollos 8-5. 3B Ramon Vazquez started a rally for Los Criollos with a 2-out walk in the 2nd inning. A pair of singles brought him around to score and tie the game at 1-1. A walk, a throwing error, and an RBI double gave Caguas the go-ahead run in the 5th. SS Luis Figueroa was hitless in 3 trips to the plate.
Criollos 2, Indios 1 (Game 2) — Yes, same score in the night-cap. Three Caguas pitchers combined for a one-hitter. Los Indios scored their run in the 5th, beginning with a walk and ending with a sacrifice fly. Los Criollos scored one run in each of the 3rd and 4th innings. Neither Figueroa nor Vazquez got into this game.
Leones de Ponce 2, Senadores de San Juan 1 — Really, same score again. RJ Rodriguez earned his 10th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning for Ponce. He walked the first batter, then retired the next three to end the game.
Southpaw Donnie Veal will likely be back in Indianapolis in 2011. He has signed a minor league contract with the Pirates today, and has also been invited to the big league camp for Spring Training. After struggling through his mandatory year on the Pirates’ major league roster as a Rule 5 Draft pick in 2009, Veal was assigned to the AAA Indians to begin 2010. He made 9 starts for the Indians, with a 3-2 record and a 4.35 ERA over 49.2 innings before being shut down due to elbow issues. Veal had Tommy John surgery in early June, and is expected to be ready to go for Spring Training.
The signing of 1B Lyle Overbay is going to make things more difficult for the likes of Steve Pearce and Jeff Clement. Both are working their way back from knee problems. Pearce was granted one more option year because of his injuries last season.
Other news of minor league contracts signed: Former Pirate Denny Bautista has signed with the Mariners. INF Doug Bernier, who spent 2010 with the Indy Indians, signed with the Yankees. P Vinnie Chulk signed with the A’s. Former Pirate P Jonah Bayliss signed with the Rays. INF/OF Jonathan Van Every signed with the Nationals.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Wednesday’s winter league games:
Caribes de Anzoategui 4, Bravos de Margarita 0 — Los Bravos were held to just 3 hits, along with 2 walks. The first 13 Margarita batters went down in order before the first base runner reached on a walk. They had 2 runners on base in both the 6th and 8th innings, but could not get them around to score. Los Caribes scored one run in each of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, then one more in the 7th. In the 4th, LF Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch, then scored on an RBI double.
Tigres del Aragua 3, Cardenales de Lara 1 — A 2-run homer in the bottom of the 11th by C Wilson Ramos broke the 1-1 tie for Los Tigres. The homer came off Lara reliever Romulo Sanchez, who was charged with his second loss of the season. Each team scored a run in the 2nd inning. Los Cardenales’ rally was started with a single by former Pirate farmhand CF Ray Sadler, then another single and two walks forced in a run. Ramos doubled to lead off the bottom of the 2nd for Los Tigres. He scored on a single by 1B Hector Gimenez and a sacrifice fly. Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, but there was only one base runner for either team over the next four innings — that was DH Lastings Milledge, who doubled in the 9th.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action:
Tigres de Aragua 12, Tiburones de La Guaira 2 — Los Tigres posted 12 runs on 12 hits, including a 4-run 6th inning and a 6-run 7th inning. They began their scoring with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 1st. Then LF Lastings Milledge added another 2-run homer following 1B Hector Gimenez’s walk to lead off the 6th. CF Jorge Cortes walked moments later, and a single and an intentional walk loaded the bases, and two runs came in on a double. The 7th inning rally got started with four singles (one by Cortes) and three doubles, and along with an RBI ground out by Gimenez, 6 runs crossed the plate. Los Tiburones scored one run in the 5th and one in the 9th. Milledge and Gimenez each walked once, and Cortes walked twice.
Caribes de Anzoategui 8, Bravos de Margarita 3 — DH Jose Tabata scored twice as Los Caribes scored in 4 consecutive innings. A 2-run homer scored in the 2nd. A walk by Tabata and three singles added two runs in the 3rd, and a double and a single plated one run in the 4th. Tabata led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo homer, and a single and a pair of doubles brought in two more runs in that inning.
Leones del Caracas 7, Navegantes del Magallanes 6 — This one took 11 innings, with Los Leones manufacturing the winning run in the bottom of the 11th. The lead-off batter singled, and a bunt moved him to second. A single by SS Asdrubal Cabrera nearly won the game, but the runner was tagged out at the plate. Then CF Josh Kroeger lined a single up the middle, and this time the throw to the plate was not in time. LF Mike Ryan led off the 4th inning with a triple for Los Navegantes, and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Corey Hamman pitched to one batter (Kroeger) in the 7th and got a fly out, but his wild pitch allowed Cabrera to score from third base to tie the score at 5-5. Each team scored a run in the 9th. Jose Ascanio pitched the top of the 9th for Los Leones, and he gave up a run on a double, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly, giving Caracas the lead again. Jean Machi pitched 2 innings of relief. He gave up the homer to Kroeger in the bottom of the 9th, which sent the game in to extras with a 6-6 tie, then retired the side in order in the 10th.