The Dominican and Puerto Rican Leagues wind up their round-robin playoff series this weekend, while the Venezuelans continue theirs for another week or so.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 5, Gigantes de Carolina 2 — Los Criollos began the scoring with a fly out-RBI for 3B Ramon Vazquez after two singles. An RBI single gave them a run in the 3rd, and a 2-run homer made it 4-0 in the 5th. Los Criollos wrapped it up with a run in the top of the 7th, on two singles, a walk, and a throwing error. Carolina scratched out a run in both the 7th and 8th innings. SS Luis Figueroa singled and walked for Los Criollos, but did not score.
Leones de Ponce 7, Senadores de San Juan 2 — A 4-run inning in the top of the 8th gave Los Leones the win. San Juan out-hit Ponce, 10 – 9, but they couldn’t bring the runners around, leaving 11 on base. RJ Rodriguez pitched the bottom of the 9th for Ponce, but gave up three consecutive singles to open the inning, which drove in one run. He struck out two, then loaded the bases with another single, then ended the inning with a grounder force out.
Aguilas de Zulia 7, Bravos de Margarita 4 — Los Bravos got the game started with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on three singles and two throwing errors. But Los Aguilas scored a run in the bottom of the 1st, another in the 3rd, and took the lead with a 3-run homer in the 5th. They added a run on a double and a triple in the 6th, and their 7th run on a double, a hit batter, and a single in the 7th. Jhonathan Ramos came on in relief for Los Bravos after that run scored in the 7th, and he ended the inning with a ground out. Ramos came back out to begin the bottom of the 8th. The first batter of the inning reached on a fielding error, then Ramos gave up a single. A ground out and a line out followed, and then Ramos was relieved. Another ground out ended the inning without a run scoring.
Caribes de Anzoategui 6, Leones de Caracas 5 — This one took 13 innings to decide. Los Leones broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 8th when C Carlos Maldonado started a rally with a single. He was replace by a pinch-runner, who scored on an RBI single. Los Caribes tied the score again with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, and the game went into extras. Neither team could get much going in the 10th or 11th, and though Los Caribes threatened in the bottom of the 12th, they still could not get a run across. Los Leones broke the tie in the top of the 13th. A double, an intentional walk, and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases. A grounder to third was fired back to the plate, for a force out at home. Then LF Mike Ryan, who had already singled twice and walked three times in the game, grounded to second base. The runner going from first to second was out, but Ryan was able to beat out the throw to first, and a run scored. But Los Caribes were not done yet — a single and two walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, and a line drive single into left field drove in two runs for the win. Jose Ascanio pitched a perfect inning in the bottom of the 8th for Caracas.
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.
The Pirates’ mini-camp begins tomorrow in Bradenton…. just 35 days until Spring Training begins, 81 days until major league opening day, and 87 days until the minor league opening day (not that anyone here is counting, of course….)
Meanwhile, the Caribbean leagues continue with their playoffs. The Mexican Pacific League will begin the semifinal round on Tuesday.
Caribes de Anzoategui 5, Leones del Caracas 4 — LF Mike Ryan singled in the bottom of the 1st for Los Leones, and a walk, another single, and an error gave Los Caribes 2 runs in that inning. They added a solo homer in the 5th, followed by a run on a single, two walks, and a sacrifice fly. Then Los Caribes roared back at Los Leones in the top of the 6th. A solo homer opened the inning, then a walk and a strikeout were followed by three singles and 2-RBI double, then a sacrifice fly, for 5 runs total. C Carlos Maldonado went 0-for-4 for Los Leones.
Bravos de Margarita 4, Aguilas de Zulia 3 — Jean Machi was credited with the win, as he was the pitcher of record when Los Bravos won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th. Los Aguilas scored 3 runs in the top of the 4th, with a solo homer, and a 2-RBI single. Three singles gave Los Bravos their first run in the bottom of the 3rd. With two outs in the bottom of the 5th, three consecutive singles, a fielding error, and a balk brought in 2 more runs for Margarita to tie the score. Machi came on to pitch the 8th and 9th innings for Los Bravos. He faced just 6 batters, allowing a single, but then erasing that runner with a double play. The bottom of the 9th began with a single, then two bunts, one with a throwing error by the Aguilas’ pitcher, put two runners in scoring position. An intentional walk loaded the bases, and an RBI single ended the game.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 4, Senadores de San Juan 3 — Each team had a 3-run homer — Los Criollos’ came in the 4th inning, and Los Senadores’ came in the bottom of the 9th. The deciding run came in the top of the 6th by Los Criollos. A double, an intentional walk to 3B Ramon Vazquez, and an RBI single drove in the winning run. Vazquez walked twice in the game, while SS Luis Figueroa walked once, but neither had a hit.
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.