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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Dominican Playoffs Begin

Back in action…. cheering for some Pirates’ players and friends in Sunday’s winter league action:

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes del Cibao  11,  Toros del Este  7  —  
The Dominican League’s round robin playoff series began this evening, and Los Gigantes took their first game with a 6-run 8th inning.   Los Toros scored 4 runs in the 1st and 3 runs in the 6th, but it wasn’t enough.  SS Pedro Ciriaco went 0-for-4 for Los Toros, and he also reached base on a fielding error in the 6th, which allowed a run to score.  Former Pirate Juan Perez pitched to one batter for Los Gigantes, finishing the 6th inning after Los Toros’ runs had scored.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Senadores de San Juan  3,  Gigantes de Carolina  1  —  
2B Benji Gonzalez and CF Luis Matos were both hitless for Los Gigantes, who scored their only run in the 8th inning, on a single and a double.  Former Pirate farmhand Eric Krebs came on to pitch the bottom of the 5th for Los Gigantes, which he began with a ground out.  But a walk, a single, and Krebs’ own throwing error on a pick-off attempt brought in one run for San Juan.  A wild pitch and another fielding error added a second run, and Krebs was relieved.  Los Senadores scored again in the 6th on a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI single.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Venados de Mazatlan  9,  Caneros de los Mochis  6  —  
Los Venados scored 5 runs in the first two innings,a nd did not give up their lead, as they posted a total of 15 hits.  Rogelios Noris entered the game as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the 6th, to play right field.  He had one plate appearance, in which he struck out.  Then in the bottom of the 9th, Noris moved to the infield to play second base — something he hasn’t done for at least 2 season, if he played there at all in the VSL.  He’s not a natural there — he made a throwing error which extended the game, though no runs scored because of it.

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A Save For Ascanio, Big Hits for Cedeno and Gimenez

The Dominican League has finished regular season play.  The four top teams — Estrellas de Oriente, Leones del Escogido, Toros del Este, and Gigantes del Cibao — will begin a round robin playoff tournament on Sunday.  Los Estrellas, Los Leones, and Los Toros all finished the regular season with identical 27-22 records, in a 3-way tie for first place.  In the Dominican League, the four top teams are allowed to “draft” players from the other two teams to help them out during the playoffs.  Los Estrellas drafted C Ronny Paulino from Los Tigres del Licey.  Los Leones drafted Indy area native 1B/OF Jake Fox from Los Tigres.  Los Gigantes drafted OF Kevin Melillo from Los Aguilas Cibaenas.  

The Venezuelan and Puerto Rican Leagues have both Friday and Saturday off, and resume play on Sunday.  The Mexican Pacific League has Friday off, but has a full slate of games scheduled for Christmas evening.

And, a few other minor league contracts signed by former Pirate farmhands:  C Michel Hernandez re-signed with the Orioles, INF Ray Chang signed with the Twins, and P Derek Hankins signed with the Rangers.

OK, on to Thursday night’s action for the Pirates’ players and friends:

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes del Carolina  5,  Indios de Mayaguez  4  —  
Los Gigantes scored 2 runs in the 1st and 4th innings, and a single run in the 3rd, then held off late-inning pushes by Los Indios to get the win.  2B Benji Gonzalez signled in the 2nd inning, but was picked off first base.  

Criollos de Caguas  6,  Senadores de San Juan  3  —  Two walks, a single, a sacrifice fly, and a 2-run triple gave San Juan a 3-run lead in the bottom of the 1st inning, but that was all the scoring they would do.  Los Criollos started their come-back in the 3rd inning, with a walk, a single, and a 2-RBI double by 3B Ramon Vazquez.  A hit batter and a double plated a single run in the 4th, then two errors and an RBI single by Vazquez brought in another run in the 5th.  A 2-run homer added their final runs in the 8th.

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