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.
Just a few winter league playoff games on Monday night.. The Mexican Pacific and Puerto Rican leagues were off tonight.
Gigantes del Cibao 6, Estrellas de Oriente 5 — The game began with a solo home run from the first batter of the game, plus another run in the top of the 1st for Los Estrellas. Los Gigantes tied the score with 2 runs in the bottom of the 2nd. Eight scoreless innings followed, until Los Estrellas scored 3 runs in the top of the 11th, all charged to Los Gigantes’ Juan Perez, on one hit and 3 walks. Ronny Paulino pinch-hit in the inning but struck out. Perez was saved from being charged with the loss when Los Gigantes answered with 4 runs in the bottom of the 11th. One hit and 5 walks contributed to those 4 runs.
Leones del Caracas 8, Aguilas de Zulia 5 — These two teams combined for 29 hits, as Los Caracas cut short Los Aguilas’ 9th inning rally and held on for the win. Caracas scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a double, two singles, a hit batter, and a sacrifice fly. They added 3 more runs in the 3rd on three solo homers (not back-to-back), including one by C Carlos Maldonado. Solo homer number four came in the 5th inning. Maldonado drove in Los Leones’ final run with an RBI double after a single in the 7th. Los Aguilas scored one run in the 5th and another in the 8th. They rallied in the top of the 9th with a pair of singles and a 3-run homer, plus a double, but that was all Caracas would allow.
Tigres de Aragua 4, Bravos de Margarita 1 — Los Tigres began the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on two singles and three doubles. 1B Hector Gimenez drove in a run with his RBI single, and LF Lastings Milledge doubled. Los Tigres went on to record 11 hits. Milledge singled in the 4th, but was out at second when CF Jorge Cortes bounced into a double play. A single and a double added another run for Los Tigres in the 8th. Jhonathan Ramos pitched 2 innings for Los Bravos. In the 6th, he retired Los Tigres in order. Ramos began the top of the 7th with two ground outs (Gimenez and Milledge), then gave up a single to Cortes, another single, and hit C Raul Chavez with a pitch to load the bases. But he ended the inning with a pop out, leaving all three runners on base. Los Bravos were held to just 3 hits over the first 8 innings. Two of those hits came in the 4th, when Los Bravos loaded the bases on a hit batter, a walk, and a single. A sacrifice fly drove in their only run of the game. Another single loaded the bases again, but a strikeout ended the inning. Los Bravos threatened again in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases again on 2 singles and an error. Los Tigres got out of the jam with a pop out in foul territory and a game-ending double play.
Back in action…. cheering for some Pirates’ players and friends in Sunday’s winter league action:
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.
MLB’s winter meetings begin tomorrow (Monday). Stay tuned for news of trades, moves, shifts, Rule 5 draft, etc.
A few of Sunday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends participating:
Cardenales de Lara 3, Bravos de Margarita 1 — Anthony Claggett pitched 4 innings in his start for Los Bravos, and allowed one unearned run on a hit and a walk in the night-cap of a double-header. The run came in the bottom of the 1st, when a single and a throwing error at third base put the lead-off runner on second base. A sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out brought in the unearned run. After a walk, Claggett retired 10 of the 11 remaining batters he faced — he hit one batter with a pitch. Los Bravos scored their run in the top of the 1st, on a double, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly. Claggett left the game with the score tied. He was relieved by Edgar Martinez, who began the bottom of the 5th by allowing a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2-run homer, which gave Lara the win.
Aguilas de Zulia 6, Tigres de Aragua 1 — SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Lastings Milledge each had a single in the 8th inning, and Milledge also walked in the 4th, but neither came around to score in Los Tigres’ loss. Aragua’s only run was scored in the top of the 9th, on a triple and an RBI single. Zulia scored their 6 runs on 13 hits, scattered over 5 of their 8 at-bats. C Raul Chavez, C Miguel Perez, and pinch-hitter Jorge Cortes were all hitless for Los Tigres.
Leones del Caracas 8, Navegantes del Magallanes 4 — Corey Hamman pitched a scoreless inning for Los Navegantes in their loss. Caracas had already scored 2 runs in each of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, and Los Navegantes had scored a pair of runs on a 2-run homer in the 4th and one more run in the 7th on a double, a single, and an RBI ground out. The first batter in the top of the 8th was hit by a pitch, and Hamman entered the game with that runner on first base. He gave up a walk but retired three batters to get out of the inning without allowing a run to score. Los Navegantes scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th on a hit batter and two singles, but it wasn’t enough.
Checking in on some Pirates’ players and friends in Friday night’s winter league games:
Navegantes del Magallanes 7, Bravos de Margarita 5 — Jean Machi pitched a perfect 9th inning to earn his 6th Save for Los Navegantes. His teammates took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the 6th with a two-out rally, scoring 5 runs on two doubles, four singles, and a walk. They added 2 more runs in the 7th on four more singles. Los Bravos put their first run on the board in the 3rd with three singles. A grand slam by CF Frank Diaz in the top of the 8th brought Los Bravos closer, but Machi held them off in the 9th. Just released SS Argenis Diaz came into the game to play shortstop in the top of the 9th, and he scooped the grounder that was Machi’s first out.
Tigres de Aragua 8, Aguilas de Zulia 1 — Two Pirates’ teammates on Los Tigres…. one tendered a contract, one not… SS Ronny Cedeno was hit by a pitch in the top of the 1st, stole second base, then scored on a 2-run homer. C Raul Chavez’s home run in the 2nd inning gave Los Tigres a 3-0 lead. In the 5th, a throwing error and a single put two runners on base. Cedeno bunted them both into scoring position, then CF Lastings Milledge drove in one run with an RBI single into right field. Los Tigres capped their scoring with 4 runs in the 6th. A single and two walks loaded the bases. Chavez was hit by a pitch, forcing in the first run. A single brought in the second run, and Cedeno’s ground out plated the third run. A walk to Milledge loaded the bases again, and another walk forced in Chavez with the fourth run of the inning. Chavez had an embarrassing moment in the 5th — with runners on first and second bases, Chavez lined right to the Zulia third baseman, who started a triple play.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 4, Gigantes de Carolina 3 — Los Gigantes had the early lead, starting with a run in the 1st, when former Indy Indian LF Luis Matos doubled and scored. In the 2nd, a ground-rule double, a walk, a fielding error by 3B Ramon Vazquez, and a single gave them a 3-0 lead. An RBI single by SS Luis Figueroa drove in Los Criollos’ first run in the 5th. Then a single, a triple, and a 3-run homer in the 6th gave Los Criollos the win. Figueroa also singled in the 1st, and Vazquez singled in the 3rd.