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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Personnel Shuffles; Loss For Nieve

Several moves, shuffling personnel around:

RHP Joe Martinez, who came to the Pirates from the Giants (with John Bowker) in July, was removed from the Pirates’ 40-man roster and designated for assignment.  That frees up a roster spot for newly signed starter Kevin Correia.  Martinez joined the Indy Indians after coming to the Pirate organization, and made 4 starts and 3 relief appearances for the Indians.  In 28 innings, he earned a 1-2 record and a 5.72 ERA.  Then he pitched 8.2 innings over 5 games for the Pirates, for a 3.12 ERA.  

Spring Training invitations for the big league camp were extended to pitchers Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson, both of whom pitched in Altoona in 2010.  Tyler Yates, working his way back from elbow surgery, was signed to a minor league contract and also invited to major league spring training. Infielder Jeff Clement was also invited to big league camp.   

The Pirates have announced the new managers for their minor league teams:  Dean Treanor, who was the pitching coach in Indianapolis in 2010, will now be managing the Indians.  Frank Kremblas, who has managed in Indianapolis for two years, will move into the role of minor league field/instructional coordinator.  PJ Forbes, who managed the Bradenton Marauders in 2010, will manage the Altoona Curve in 2011.  Carlos Garcia will move from coaching first base for the Pirates to managing the Marauders.  Gary Robinson is moving up from managing the State College Spikes to managing the West Virginia Power, and Dave Turgeon, former coach at Virginia Tech, will become the manager at State College.   

And, some winter league action for some Pirates’ players and friends:

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina  4,  Indios de Mayaguez  2  –  
For the second night in a row, Benji Gonzalez came into the game as a pinch-hitter for Los Gigantes, then remained in the game on defense.  Gonzalez flied out in the top of the 6th, then played second base for one inning, and shortstop for 3 innings.  He also grounded out in the 9th.  Los Gigantes scored one run in the 2nd, 2 in the 4th, and one more in the 5th, while a triple and a double contributed to Los Indios’ 2 runs in the 7th.

Criollos de Caguas  7,  Senadores de San Juan  2  –  Former Indy Indian SS Luis Figueroa had another big night, going 4-for-5 with 3 doubles, a homer, and 4 RBI.  Figueroa flied out in the bottom of the 1st, and that was the only time he was retired.  His ground-rule double drive in Los Criollos’ first run in the 3rd.  He doubled again (the conventional way) in the 4th, driving in 2 of that inning’s 3 runs.  Then he homered to lead off the bottom of the 6th.  He also doubled in the 8th, but was left on base.  Los Criollos scored 2 runs in the 5th, without Figueroa’s help:  three walks, including one by 3B Ramon Vazquez,  loaded the bases, then a double brought in two runs.  Vazquez also walked in the 2nd inning, but did not score.

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Slow Offense In Winter League Play

Shortstop signings:  Former Pirate Brian Bixler has signed a minor league contract with the Nationals, and will likely be back to face the Indy Indians as a member of the Syracuse Chiefs.  Former Pirate Argenis Diaz, who was not offered a contract by the Pirates after this season, has signed a minor league contract with the Tigers.  We will likely see him again as a member of the Toledo Mudhens.

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action: 

DOMINICAN LEAGUE   — Final regular season games
Leones del Escogido  6,  Toros del Este  2  –  
Los Leones’ 4-run 6th inning gave them plenty of offense.  Los Toros were held to just 4 hits, with only one hit over the first 6 innings.  They scored one run in the 7th on a triple and a sacrifice fly, and one in the 9th on a single, a double, and an RBI ground out.  SS Pedro Ciriaco struck out in all three of his at-bats and also committed a fielding error which led to a run in the 4th.  

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina  5,  Senadores  de San Juan  4  – Benji Gonzalez
got into a game for Los Gigantes for the first time in over a month.  He entered the game in the top of the 8th to pinch-run after a double.  A fly out moved him to third base, but he was left there when the inning ended.  Then Gonzalez remained in the game to play second base, where he made 2 plays.  Los Senadores scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, an were leading 4-3 going into the 9th.  A 2-run homer in the top of the 9th gave Los Gigantes the win.  

 
VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Cardenales de Lara  6,  Tiburones de La Guaira  3  –  
Former Indy Indian (2008) TJ Beam made his Venezuelan League debut for Los Tiburones, but it was not a happy start.  He faced 4 batters and allowed 2 singles and 2 walks, with one run scoring before he was relieved.  A wild pitch by his relief and a double gave Lara 4 runs in the top of the 1st.  They added single runs in the 7th and 9th innings.  Los Tiburones cut the early lead in half with 2 runs in the 3rd.  Then in the bottom of the 8th, Los Tiburones homered off Lara’s reliever Romulo Sanchez, who gave up 2 walks after the homer.  

Caribes de Anzoategui  7,  Tigres de Aragua  3  (Game 1) —  Los Caribes scored 5 runs in their last two at-bats for the come-from-behind win.  In the 5th, a single, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch, and a walk put Caribes on the corners.  LF Jose Tabata reached base on a throwing error, which allowed the runner on third to score.  A double drove in two more runs (including Tabata).  The 6th inning began with a pair of walks and a triple brought those runners across the plate.  Tabata also singled in the 1st inning, when Los Caribes scored one run, but he was out at third base.  Los Caribes also scored a run in the 2nd.  Los Tigres began the game with a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st, and they added another run on a walk and a double in the 5th.  1B Hector Gimenez singled for Aragua after the home run in the 1st.  SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Jorge Cortes were both hitless in the first game of the double header.  

Caribes  5,  Tigres  0  (Game 2)  –  Cedeno, Cortes, and Gimenez were all hitless in the night-cap, as Los Tigres were held to just 3 hits.  Los Caribes scored 3 runs in the 1st and 2 more in the 2nd.  Tabata did not get into the game.  
 

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Tabata And Cedeno Hitting Nicely

A full Saturday night of action in the winter leagues:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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.  

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Many Familiar Winter League Pitchers

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.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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.  

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