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.
The Pirates finished up a chilly mini-camp in Bradenton, and now there is just a month until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.
A few notes:
Wil Ledezma, who went to the Blue Jays last week (off waivers), was outrighted to the Blue Jays’ minor league system.
Last year’s Curve manager, Matt Walbeck, has found a job in the Braves’ organization, managing at the A level.
RHP Jorge Julio has been signed to a minor league contract, but has not been invited to the major league camp for spring training. The Venezuelan native was first signed by the Expos in 1996. He reached as high as the A+ level in the Expos organization before being traded to the Orioles at the end of 2000. Julio made his major league debut with the Orioles and pitched in Baltiore from 2001 to 2005. In early 2006, he was traded to the Mets (as part of a deal for former Pirate Kris Benson), then subsequently traded to the Diamondbacks, to the Marlins, and to the Rockies. In January 2008, Julio signed with the Cleveland Indians, and appeared in 15 games, all in relief, in the major league level. He pitched only 17 innings, with a 5.60 ERA, and was released in early June. He was signed by the Braves in the same season, and did well for them at both the AAA level (2.04 ERA in 39 innings in 38 appearances) and at the major league level (0.73 ERA in 12 innings in 12 appearances). Julio split the 2009 season between three organizations: The Brewers, the Rays, and the Pirates, right here in Indianapolis. For the Indy Indians, Julio made just 4 relief appearances, allowing 7 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings. He also made 19 appearances (22 innings) for a 5.96 ERA for the AAA Durham Bulls, and 15 appearances (17 innings) for a 7.79 ERA for the Milwaukee Brewers. During that time, his walk rate rose while his strikeout rate plummetted. Julio pitched for Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League in 2010, and did well there. In 55 appearances, he pitched 55 innings and allowed only 7 earned runs on 39 hits, with 57 strikeouts, for a 1.15 ERA. Julio has also had a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League over the past few months, with a 1.88 ERA for Los Caribes de Anzoategui. In 28.2 innings, he allowed 6 runs on 26 hits and 12 walks, with 22 strikeouts, and a 3-3 record and 6 saves. The Pirates are hoping that Julio, who will turn 32 in March, will be able to continue this trend in the 2011 season. Not inviting him to the big league camp seems to indicate that they want to see some proof, most likely at the AAA level.
Just a few winter league games on Thursday night (Click on “Read More”)
A few winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends…
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 4, Leones de Ponce 3 — Two runs in the 3rd and another 2 runs in the 6th gave Los Criollos the edge. SS Luis Figueroa singled and scored a run. 3B Ramon Vazquez drove in a run with a ground out.
Senadores de San Juan 5, Gigantes de Carolina 4 — A 5-run 6th inning pushed Los Senadores past Los Gigantes. That inning included a walk, a fielding error, two singles, and back-to-back triples. Los Gigantes scored a run in the 4th on an error and a single, then scored 3 more runs in the 5th on two doubles and a triple. Benji Gonzalez entered the game as a pinch-runner for Los Gigantes in the top of the 8th, but was doubled off second base. He remained in the game at second base for the bottom of the inning.
Leones del Caracas 5, Tigres de Aragua 2 — Ronald Uviedo earned the win with 5 innings of work, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk. Los Tigres’ first run came in the 4th inning on a single, a double by 1B Hector Gimenez, and a sacrifice fly by LF Lastings Milledge. In the 5th, a pair of singles, including one by C Raul Chavez, plus another sacrifice fly, gave Aragua their second run. Los Leones scored 2 runs on three singles in the bottom of the 1st. In the 2nd, a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly brought in a third Caracas run. Two walks, two singles, a double, and a sacrifice fly gave Los Leones two more runs in the 4th. LF Mike Ryan singled, but the runner from second base was out at the plate, on the throw in from Milledge to Chavez.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
Tomateros de Culiacan 6, Algodoneros de Guasave 3 — Los Tomateros scored a pair of runs in three different innings, beating Guasave, who scored single runs in three different innings. SS/LF Luis Cruz led off the bottom of the 8th with a single for Los Tomateros, and he scored on a 2-run homer. DH Yurendell de Caster walked to lead off the 7th for Guasave, and he came around to score that inning’s run on a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly. Los Tomateros are leading the 7-game series 2-0. In the other Mexican League series, Los Caneros de Los Mochis are leading Los Yaquis de Obregon 2 games to none.
Sydney Blue Sox 4, Adelaide Bite 3 — Bite starter Paul Mildren had some tough innings against the Blue Sox, and he suffered his 6th loss of the season. A throwing error, and an RBI single gave the Blue Sox their first run in the bottom of the 1st. Mildren gave up a walk and a pair of doubles, accounting for 2 runs, in the 2nd inning. He worked around runners on base in the next three innings, including leaving two runners in scoring position after a walk and a double in the 5th. He got into more trouble in the 6th, opening the inning with a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly, before being relieved. Overall, Mildren gave up 4 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits and 2 walks, with 5 strikeouts. Meanwhile, the Bite were scoring a little, but not keeping up. They picked up one run on an exciting play in the 4th. 1B Todd Gossage drove a liner into right field, and scrambled around for a triple, and when the Blue Sox’ shortstop missed the catch on the throw in from right, Gossage was able to keep running, scoring on the error. Gossage doubled and came around to score in the 7th inning. Two singles and a fielding error gave the Bite one more run in the top of the 9th.
Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in winter league playoff action …
Tigres de Aragua 5, Bravos de Margarita 4 — A double and a single in the top of the 10th gave Los Tigres the winning run. Los Tigres had started the scoring in the top of the 1st, on three singles, including an RBI single by LF Lastings Milledge. Los Bravos countered with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 4th. Milledge tied the score with a solo home run in the top of the 6th. With Jean Machi on the mound for Margarita in the top of the 8th, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch put a Tigres’ batter on third base, and he scored on an RBI single. Machi came back to pitch a quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 9th. Los Bravos tied the score again in the bottom of the 9th on a solo homer. Los Tigres broke the tie in the top of the 10th, then held off Los Bravos in the bottom of the frame. Wil Ledezma pitched a perfect 6th inning for Los Tigres, then gave up a 2-out single in the 7th. C Raul Chavez and 1B Hector Gimenez picked that runner off first base to get Los Tigres out of the inning. Gimenez went 0-for-4 at the plate, and Chavez went 0-for-2. Miguel Perez came into the game as a late-inning defensive replacement behind the plate, but did not have a plate appearance.
Leones del Caracas 10, Caribes de Anzoategui 6 — Seven runs in the top of the 1st gave Los Leones an edge that Los Caribes could not overcome. Los Leones sent 11 batters to the plate in the 1st inning, and the first 6 batters reached base safely: single, single, walk, grand slam, single, single (by C Carlos Maldonado). After a pop out, LF Mike Ryan hit a 2-run homer, which was followed by a double, before the inning ended. Maldonado added another RBI single in the 2nd inning, and Caracas picked up another 2-run homer in the top of the 9th. Los Caribes scored in all but one of the first 6 innings, but four of those innings brought in just one run, not enough to catch up.