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.
Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in Sunday’s winter league play…
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE (playoffs)
Criollos de Caguas 5, Gigantes de Carolina 0 — Caguas’ starter Dylan Owen (Mets) pitched 7 no-hit innings, and two relievers finished the deal with a string of 6 consecutive ground outs. Owen walked 2 Carolina batters, one to lead off the 2nd, and one to lead off the 7th. Los Criollos scored one run in the 4th. The bottom of the 5th began with a walk by 3B Ramon Vazquez, then a bunt and a throwing error put runners on the corners, and a walk loaded the bases. SS Luis Figueroa bounced into a double play, but that let Vazquez score from third base. Two RBI singles brought in two more runs. A walk and two throwing errors (5 total errors for Los Gigantes) gave Caguas their final run in the 7th.
Leones de Ponce 5, Senadores de San Juan 4 — Los Leones were leading 4-2 going into the top of the 8th, which opened with a walk. Los Leones brought in RJ Rodriguez to pitch, but he gave up a walk and made a throwing error, with allowed a run to come in. A hit batter and an RBI grounder tied the score, and Rodriguez was charged with a Blown Save. Rodriguez retired the side on three ground outs in the top of the 9th, and in the bottom of the 9th, he was saved. A hit batter, a double, and a walk-off single gave Ponce and Rodriguez the win.
DOMINICAN LEAGUE (playoffs)
Estrellas de Oriente 2, Leones del Escogido 1 — Not a lot of hits in this game either. Los Leones were held to 3 hits, and scored one run in the 1st, on a single a walk, and a wild pitch. Los Estrellas tied the score with a solo homer in the 3rd. They took the lead in the 6th on back-to-back doubles, the first by DH Ronny Paulino. Franquelis Osoria pitched to one batter in the 4th for Los Estrellas. He threw a wild pitch, but got a strikeout.
Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Sunday’s winter league action…
The Dominican League’s last regular season games will be on Tuesday.
Tigres de Aragua 8, Leones de Caracas 3 (Game 1) — Los Tigres won this battle of the big cats with a 6-run 3rd inning. CF Jorge Cortes led off the inning with a single, was bunted to second base, and scored on an RBI single. SS Ronny Cedeno lined out, but the next two batters singled, driving in a run. 1B Hector Gimenez was hit by a pitch, then LF Lastings Milledge brought in two runs with his RBI single. A triple added two more runs. Cortes walked in his second at-bat in the inning, but a fly out ended the rally. Los Tigres added another run in the 5th on a single, Gimenez’s ground rule double, and Milledge’s sacrifice fly — his third RBI of the game. Milledge singled again in a rally in the 7th, when Aragua slipped in their 8th run. Caracas did all their scoring in the bottom of the 7th, leading off the inning with two singles and a 3-run homer.
Tigres 6, Leones 5 (Game 2) — It was Cortes who had 3 hits in the night-cap, while Cedeno, Gimenez, and C Raul Chavez were hitless. Wil Ledezma made the start for Los Tigres, and pitched 2 innings, allowing a run in the 1st. Aragua tied the score in the 2nd with a walk, a single by Milledge, and an RBI single by Cortes. Ledezma was relieved to begin the 3rd, and that was when Caracas scored 2 more runs on a walk, a single, and a triple. Another triple and a sacrifice fly gave Los Leones a 4-1 lead in the 5th. Los Tigres came roaring back in the top of the 6th, to take the lead. The inning began with 3 consecutive walks, including on Milledge and Gimenez. A triple cleared the bases, then Cortes’ double gave Aragua a 5-4 lead. Another single and a walk loaded the bases for Aragua, but a double play ended the inning and the rally. Caracas tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, sending the game into extra innings. Jose Ascanio took the mound for Caracas in the top of the 7th, when he retired the side in order. In the bottom of the 8th, pinch-hitter Miguel Perez led off with a single, and Cortes bunted him to second base. A single drove in the speedy Perez from second base with the go-ahead run.
Navegantes del Magallanes 8, Tiburones de La Guaira 2 — Los Tiburones had the early lead, but Los Navegantes scored 7 of their runs in the final three innings, including a 4-run 8th. Jean Machi earned his 7th save with 1.1 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.
Caribes de Anzoategui 8, Cardenales de Lara 7 (Game 1) — Six runs in the 2nd inning gave Los Caribes enough runs to outlast Lara’s late-inning rallies. DH Jose Tabata singled and scored on a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st. Los Cardenales got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning, but Los Caribes had their big 2nd inning. With one out, a walk and four straight singles, including Tabata’s second single, brought in two runs, then a grand slam by LF Juan Camacho gave Los Caribes an 8-1 lead.
Caribes 4, Cardenales 2 (Game 2) — Four runs in the 6th inning gave Los Caribes what they needed. The inning began with a double and a single, then Jose Tabata lined another single into center field, bringing in one run. Three more singles and a sacrifice fly added 3 more runs. Los Cardenales scored one run in the 2nd on a walk, a single, and an RBI ground out. A double, a wild pitch, and a single gave Lara their second run in the 4th. CF Ray Sadler went 0-for-3 for Lara.
A full Saturday night of action in the winter leagues:
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.
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.
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.