Caribbean Series Day 4; Bite Advance to Championship Series

Former Pirate C Carlos Maldonado has signed a minor league contract with the Nationals. 

In the Caribbean Series:
Mexico  6,  Dominican Republic  3  —  
The Dominicans were leading 3-1 going into the 8th inning, but Mexico rallied for 2 runs in the top of the inning to tie the score.  A single, a wild pitch, and a single brought in the first run before an out was recorded.   Then with two outs (from two different relief pitchers), a walk and a single scored the tying run.  The Dominicans went down in order in the bottom of the 8th, and the Mexicans came right back to break the tie in the top of the 9th with a 3-run homer.  The Dominican Republic put two runners on in the bottom of the 9th, but could not score, and Mexico had the win.

Puerto Rico  4,   Venezuela  2 –  Two runs in the top of the 10th gave Puerto Rico this win.  The Puerto Ricans began the scoring when a throwing error contributed to an unearned run in the 2nd inning.  They scored again in the 3rd on a single, a walk by SS LuisFigueroa, a bunt that turned into a ground out at second (but they weren’t fast enough to turn two), and a sacrifice fly.  Venezuela got onto the scoreboard in the 5th with a bases-loaded RBI ground out, then tied the score with the help of an error in the 7th inning.  Puerto Rico threatened in the top of the 9th, but did not score until the top of the 10th. Figueroa walked, then moved to third on a bunt complicated by a throwing error.  A hit batter loaded the bases, and Figueroa crossed the plate on a walk.  The next batter also walked, forcing in an insurance run.  

Mexico now leads the series with a 3-1 record.  Venezuela is last with a 1-3 record, and both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are tied at 2-2.

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Roster Updates And Playoff Games

An update on some recent roster moves by the Pirates:

Pitcher Jose Veras took a few days, but did sign a minor league contract with the Pirates.  Veras is a 30-year-old who was first signed by the Rays in 1998.  He began playing in the US in 2002, and split both the 2003 and 2004 at the AA and AAA levels.  He was granted free agency after 2004 and was signed by the Rangers for 2005, spending that season at the AAA level, where he made 57 relief appearances with a 3.80 ERA.  Veras signed with the Yankees after that, and pitched in their organization for the next 3+ seasons.  He split that time between the AAA level (2.56 ERA in 95 innings, with 115 strikeouts) and the major league club (4.50 ERA in 102 innings, with 94 strikeouts).  The 2008 season was his best of those, with 60 relief appearances for the Yankees and 3.59 ERA and a 5-3 record.  In 2009, the Yankees traded Veras to the Cleveland Indians, where he finished the last 3 months of the season.  The Dominican native made 22 relief appearances for Cleveland with a 1-2 record and a 4.38 ERA, with 22 strikeouts.  He signed with the Marlins for 2010 and began the season in AAA New Orleans.  He began the season slowly, but got better in May and was tough in June:  a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings (10 games) with 12 strikeouts.  That earned him a promotion to the Marlins, where he finished the season with 48 relief appearances.  In 48 innings, he earned a 3-3 record and a 3.75 ERA with 54 strikeouts.  Veras did not play winter ball this off-season.  The righty will be competing for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen

C Wyatt Toregas has also been inked to a minor league contract.  He was the Cleveland Indians’ 24th pick in the 2004 draft, and began his pro career in 2005, reaching the AAA level in 3008 and the major leagues in 2009.  Toregas hit .284 for the Columbus Clippers (AAA) in 60 games in 2009, with 7 homers and 69 RBI.  In 19 appearances for the Indians in that season, he hit only.176 with 6 RBI.  The Virginia native was still on the Indians’ 40-man roster at the beginning of 2010, but spent the entire season in the minor leagues, possibly battling injuries.  At AA Akron, he got into just 17 games, hitting .203 with one home run and 6 RBI.  At AAA Columbus, he was in just 14 games and hit .200 with 2 homers and 6 RBI.  He has a slim chance of sticking with the Pirates out of spring training, but will more likely be in Indianapolis to begin 2011.

In addition to Veras and Toregas, a few other minor leaguers have been invited to big league camp for spring training:  catchers Tony Sanchez and Eric Fryer, infielders Chase d’Arnaud and Brian Friday, and outfielder Andrew Lambo.  

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Win For Uviedo, Appearance For Gonzalez

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.   

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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. 

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE
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.
 

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Uviedo Wins, Gimenez Homers

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.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
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. 

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Big Night For Paulino And Mildren

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends (some from the way-back machine) in Wednesday’s winter league action:

DOMINICAN LEAGUE   (Round robin playoff series)
Leones del Escogido  4,  Gigantes del Cibao  2  —  
A 2-run homer in the top of the 7th made the difference for Los Leones.  LF/RF Rich Thompson went 0-for-2 for Los Gigantes, with a walk.  He also dropped down a sacrifice bunt following a single in the bottom of the 9th, moving the runner to second base.  Another single brought in Los Gigantes’ run in that inning.  Former Indy Indian (2000 – 02) Tim Harikkala pitched 2.2 innings for Los Gigantes.  He finished the 4th inning, then pitched two scoreless innings, but gave up the 2-run homer in the 7th.  

Estrellas de Oriente  9,  Toros del Este  2  –  DH Ronny Paulino had 3 hits and an RBI for Los Estrellas.  The RBI came with a single in the bottom of the 1st inning, following two other singles.  He singled again in the 3rd, and tried to score on a double, but Paulino never was the fastest runner, and he was out at the plate.  Paulino led off the 6th inning with a single, which started a 5-run rally, including a 2-run homer.  

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce  8,  Senadores de San Juan  6  —  
A 4-run rally in the 8th was not enough for Los Senadores to catch up.  Then they had to deal with RJ Rodriguez in the 9th.  Rodriguez picked up his 13th save of the season for Los Leones, with a 1-2-3 inning.  

Criollos de Caguas  8,  Indios de Mayaguez  2  —  Eight runs in the 3rd inning were all Los Criollos needed.  They recorded 5 singles, 4 walks, a triple, and a sacrifice fly (by SS Luis Figueroa) as 13 batters came to the plate in the inning.  

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes de Anzoategui  9,  Navegantes del Magallanes  2  —  
Los Caribes capped their scoring with a 4-run 8th inning, and Los Navegantes could not keep up.  C JR House had two hits and a walk for Los Navegantes, but did not get to score.  He walked in the top of the 1st but was left stranded.  He doubled in the 3rd, but runners were left on second and third bases in that inning, and in the 9th, he singled and was again left on base.

AUSTRALIAN LEAGUE
Adelaide Bite  4,  Canberra Cavalry  0  —  Former Altoona Curve Paul Mildren pitched 8 stellar innings for the Bite, allowing only 2 hits and no walks, while striking out 9 Canberra batters.  Mildren worked around a 2-out single and a batter reaching base on an error in the 2nd inning, then allowed a lead-off single in the 4th.  Then he finished his night by retiring 15 straight batters.  The Bite scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st, on a walk, a double, and a 2-RBI single by LF Quincy Latimore.  A 2-run homer gave them some insurance in the 2nd inning, and that was all the scoring there would be in the game.  Latimore singled again in the 5th inning, but was left on base.  

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