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.
Cheering for Pirates’ players (the few who are left) and friends in the winter leagues……
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 6, Gigantes de Carolina 3 – Four runs in the bottom of the 8th gave the game to Los Leones. Two walks and four singles did the damage in that inning. Reliever RJ Rodriguez came on to pitch the top of the 9th for Ponce. He gave up a run on two singles and a sacrifice fly, though it was not enough for Los Gigantes to catch up.
Criollos de Caguas 7, Senadores de San Juan 3 – A 5-run 3rd inning made the difference for Los Criollos. Two singles put runners on the corners, then SS Luis Figueroa drove in the first run with an RBI single. A triple and a homer added two runs each. 3B Ramon Vazquez walked to begin the Caguas half of the 4th, and two more walks loaded the bases. Figueroa brought in Vazquez with a sacrifice fly. Vazquez also contributed an RBI single in the 5th. Los Senadores posted 13 runs, but left 12 runners on base.
The four teams involved in the Puerto Rican League playoffs are not far apart after one week of the round robin playoff tournament. Ponce is in first place, with a 4-2 record. Caguas and San Juan are tied for second with 3-3 records. Carolina is last, with a 2-4 record.
The two top teams in this round robin tournament did not play today — Los Caribes and Los Leones de Caracas are both tied with 4-1 records. Los Tigres de Aragua has a 3-3 record, Los Aguilas de Zulia are 2-4, and Los Bravos de Margarita won their first playoff game tonight, giving them a 1-4 record.
Bravos de Margarita 1, Aguilas de Zulia 0 – Jean Machi pitched a scoreless 8th inning for Los Bravos, allowing a single, but then erasing that runner in a double play. The game’s only run came in the bottom of the 7th, on a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a RBI single.
Tigres de Aragua 8, Caribes de Anzoategui 0 – Aragua starter Seth Etherton (Dodgers) held Los Caribes to 3 hits and no walks over 8 shutout innings, with 6 strikeouts for the win. New Blue Jay Wil Ledezma finished the game with a scoreless 9th, working around a lead-off single. Los Tigres hitters packed in 16 hits, and started their scoring with 2 runs in the 1st. LF Lastings Milledge had a single in that inning. Milledge singled in two runs in the 6th, following another single and 1B Hector Gimenez being hit by a pitch. Gimenez added a 3-run homer in the 7th. After the homer, Milledge walked, CF Jorge Cortes singled, and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. Another single up the middle brought in Milledge, but Cortes was thrown out at the plate as he tried to score from second base.
The Caribbean leagues continue their playoffs, though the Mexican Pacific League has the night off….
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 5, Senadores de San Juan 2 – Reliever JR Rodriguez earned his first playoff save with a perfect 9th inning for Los Leones. His teammates broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 7th with a 2-run homer, followed by another run on two singles, a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch.
Criollos de Caguas 4, Gigantes de Carolina 0 – Los Gigantes were held to just 4 hits, and even with 5 walks, they could not push a run across the plate. Los Criollos were held to just 3 hits, but they took advantage of 7 walks, 3 hit batters, and 2 errors to score their 4 runs. Their first run came in the bottom of the 1st, on a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt by SS Luis Figueroa, two walks, and a sacrifice fly. 3B Ramon Vazquez led off the 4th with a single, and he came around to score with help from a bunt, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly. Los Criollos’ final two runs scored in the 6th, and with just one hit. Vazquez reached on a fielding error, then a hit batter, a balk, and a sacrifice fly brought him in. Figueroa drove in the final run with an RBI double.
Gigantes del Cibao 7, Toros del Este 5 – Los Toros began the scoring with 4 runs in the bottom of the 4th — three singles, and a 3-run homer. Los Gigantes answered with 4 runs of their own in the top of the 5th, on 5 singles and a sacrifice fly. One of the singles, which loaded the bases, came off the bat of CF Rich Thompson. Los Toros scored one more run in the bottom of the 5th, but Los Gigantes scored 3 in the top of the 7th, with 4 singles and a sacrifice fly.
Leones del Escogido 2, Estrellas de Oriente 1 – Ronny Paulino, making a rare appearance playing first base, drove in Los Estrellas only run with an RBI ground out in the 1st inning. With one out in the 6th, Los Leones popped two singles. Franquelis Osoria came on to pitch for Los Estrellas, but the only batter he faced hit an RBI single to tie the game. Another single brought in the go-ahead run.
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.
A few Pirates’ players and friends appeared in Wednesday’s winter league playoff games:
Leones del Caracas 2, Aguilas de Zulia 0 (Game 1)– Another pitching duel tonight, with each team posting just 5 hits each. Los Leones scored a run in the 6th on a single, a bunt, a ground out, and an RBI single. They added another run in the 7th, on a ground-rule double, a sacrifice bunt by LF Mike Ryan (who was shifted over from Los Navegantes del Magallanes) and an RBI ground out. Jose Ascanio pitched the top of the 8th for Caracas. He gave up a lead-off single, but got the next batter to line into a double play at first base, and another line out ended the inning.
Leones 14, Aguilas 5 (Game 2) – Oh, that’s where all the hits went — to the second game, with 13 hits for each team. Three Leones’ batters collected 3 hits each. C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, scoring twice for Los Leones. LF Mike Ryan also scored twice, with a single and a walk. The 6-run 6th inning pushed Los Leones over the top, and it included 3 walks, a triple, a double, and Maldonado’s RBI single.
Tigres de Aragua 4, Bravos de Margarita 1 – Los Tigres’ pitchers held Los Bravos to just 3 hits, and the only Margarita run came on two errors and an RBI single in the 5th. Aragua scored their first run in the 3rd inning on a single and a double. Four singles, including one by 1B Hector Gimenez, brought in 2 runs in the 5th. A single, a stolen base, and an error gave Los Tigres their last run in the 8th inning. LF Lastings Milledge and CF Jorge Cortes also had a single each in the game.
Estrellas de Oriente 2, Toros del Este 1 – A double, a bunt, and an RBI single in the top of the 10th broke a 1-1 tie to give Los Estrellas the win. A double, a bunt, and an RBI ground out brought in Los Estrellas’ first run in the 6th. A pair of singles around a ground out pushed in a run for Los Toros in the 8th. DH Ronny Paulino singled twice and walked for Los Estrellas, but was out at second base twice and left on base once.
Gigantes del Cibao 9, Leones del Escogido 6 – CF Rich Thompson is looking like a strong addition to Los Gigantes for their playoff drive. He contributed a single, a double, 2 RBI, and a run in tonight’s win. The game began with Thompson’s double, and a bunt and a throwing error allowed the speedy Thompson come around to score. A ground out and a wild pitch gave Los Gigantes a second run in the top of the 1st. Los Leones tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Thompson gave Los Gigantes the lead again in the top of the 2nd, with an RBI ground out that followed 3 singles. Escogido took the lead back in the bottom of the frame with 3 runs, for a 5-3 score. Los Gigantes tied the score at 5-5 with two singles and two doubles in the 4th. Then they recaptured the lead in the 5th, scoring 3 runs on a pair of two-out singles and a pair of fielding errors. Thompson drove in Los Gigantes’ final run in the top of the 7th, with an RBI single following a double.