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.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
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.
A few signing notes for former Pirates, all minor league contracts:
1B Brad Eldred signed with the Giants, P Ian Snell and INF Ramon Vazquez signed with the Cardinals, and OF Matt Kata signed with the Rangers.
Cheering for a few Pirates’ players and friends in the winter league playoffs….
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 2, Criollos de Caguas 1 — RJ Rodriguez earned his 3rd save of the playoffs with a perfect 9th inning of work. Los Leones scored their runs in the 4th, on three straight hits — a single and two doubles. Los Criollos’ only run came in the top of the 6th, on a double, a ground out by SS Luis Figueroa which moved the runner to third, and a RBI single. 3B Ramon Vazquez singled to lead off the 5th for Los Criollos, but he was caught stealing second base.
Gigantes de Carolina 5, Senadores de San Juan 4 — Benji Gonzalez made the start at second base for Los Gigantes, and he scored their first run. In the bottom of the 1st, Gonzalez singled, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored on a sacrifice fly. San Juan scored 3 runs in the top of the 2nd, and Los Gigantes countered with a run in the bottom of the 3rd, on 3 singles. They tied the score in the 7th with a double, a hit batter, and an RBI single. The tie continued into the top of the 10th, when Los Senadores took the lead with a single and a double. But four singles in the bottom of the inning drove in 2 runs to give Los Gigantes the win.
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.
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.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in winter league playoff games…
Estrellas de Oriente 9, Gigantes del Cibao 4 — A pair of 2-run homers in the first two innings got Los Estrellas off to a good start. Three singles added two more runs in the 6th for Los Estrellas. Five singles, including one by Ronny Paulino, and a fielding error by RF Rich Thompson (the second in 2 days) added another 3 runs in the 7th. By then, Los Gigantes were out of it. They scored one run in the 1st on a passed ball, a single, and a sacrifice fly. Los Gigantes rallied for 3 runs in the 8th. A single and a grounder force out left Thompson on first base. He advanced to second base on a fielding error, then scored on an RBI double. Another ground out and a single brought in two more runs.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Senadores de San Juan 2, Gigantes de Carolina 0 — A pitching duel, with each team held to just 4 hits. 2B Benji Gonzalez and CF Luis Matos hit back-to-back singles in the 5th, and that was the closest Los Gigantes came to scoring. Three of Los Senadores’ hits were singles in the 3rd inning, and combined with a sacrifice bunt and a throwing error, that brought in their two runs.
Caribes de Anzoategui 7, Bravos de Margarita 1 — More team-jumping here, this time with reliever Jean Machi and catcher JR House jumping from Los Navegantes del Magallanes to Los Bravos de Margarita (and House had been with Los Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican League before that). House went 0-for-3 with a walk for Los Bravos. The walk led off the top of the 3rd, but he was left on base. Los Bravos scored their only run in the 5th, on a hit batter, a double, and an RBI ground out. Los Caribes scored all their runs in the first 4 innings — 2 in the 1st, a 3-run homer in the 2nd, and 2 more in the 4th. Machi came on to pitch for Los Bravos in the 7th, and he worked around a lead-off single, keeping any more runs from scoring.
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…
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.