Solid Inning For Ascanio, Latimore Slumping

Another minor league free agent signed: Pitcher Neal Cotts signed with the Yankees.

Looking in on some of the Pirates’ players and friends in Thursday’s winter league action.. the Dominican League has the night off, and there were some games postponed in Venezuela.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas   9,  Aguilas de Zulia  5  –
 A 4-run 8th inning made the difference for Los Leones.  Jose Ascanio pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th for Caracas.  He gave up a walk and a single with one out, but then got a double play to get out of the inning.  

Cardenales de Lara  3,  Tigres de Aragua  0  –  LF Lastings Milledge, 1B Hector Gimenez, and C Raul Chavez each posted a single for Los Tigres, but none could come around to score.  Both Milledge and Gimenez had their singles in the 4th, after a walk.  The lead runner tried to score from second on Milledge’s single, but Lara CF Ray Sadler’s throw to the plate was right on targer, and the runner was out at home.  Sadler went 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch.  

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas  2,  Indios de Mayaguez  1  (Game 1) —  
Los Indios scored a run with a lead-off triple and a single in the top of the 1st, then did not score again for the rest of the game, despite out-hitting Los Criollos 8-5.  3B Ramon Vazquez started a rally for Los Criollos with a 2-out walk in the 2nd inning.  A pair of singles brought him around to score and tie the game at 1-1.  A walk, a throwing error, and an RBI double gave Caguas the go-ahead run in the 5th.  SS Luis Figueroa was hitless in 3 trips to the plate.  

Criollos  2,  Indios 1  (Game 2)  –  Yes, same score in the night-cap.  Three Caguas pitchers combined for a one-hitter.  Los Indios scored their run in the 5th, beginning with a walk and ending with a sacrifice fly.  Los Criollos scored one run in each of the 3rd and 4th innings.  Neither Figueroa nor Vazquez got into this game.

Leones de Ponce  2,  Senadores de San Juan  1  –  Really, same score again.  RJ Rodriguez earned his 10th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning for Ponce.  He walked the first batter, then retired the next three to end the game.

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A Loss For Valdez

The MLB Winter Meetings are over…. back to the winter league action, as we cheer on some new Pirates’ players.

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Leones del Escogido  3,  Tigres del Licey  0  –  
New Pirate Caesar Valdez (just acquired from the Diamondbacks as the player-to-be-named-later in the Zach Duke trade) made his 8th start for Licey, but did not get out of the 3rd inning as he suffered his 2nd loss of the season.  Valdez had no trouble in his first inning of work, then gave up a solo home run in the 2nd inning.  He put out the first two batters in the 3rd inning, then gave up three consecutive singles for a run, plus a walk.  Valdez was relieved at that point, with no more runs scoring in the inning.  Los Leones did score one more run in the 5th.  Los Tigres were held to just 4 hits, including one by Indy area native 1B Jake Fox.  3B Andy Marte and C Robinzon Diaz were both hitless in the game.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Bravos de Margarita  5,  Cardenales de Lara  4  –  
Los Cardenales tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the 8th on a pair of doubles.  The winning run scored in the bottom of the 9th, when two walks and a hit batter put three Bravos on base.  Another walk forced in the winning run.  Romulo Sanchez pitched to 4 Margarita batters and made 4 outs, finishing the 6th inning for Lara and then pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the 7th.  Jhonathan Ramos pitched a scoreless 6th inning for Margarita.  He allowed a double and a walk, with 2 strikeouts. 

Tigres de Aragua  6,  Navegantes de Magallanes  4  –  A game full of Pirates.  Los Tigres posted a pair of 2-run homers in the 5th inning, on their way to 13 total hits.  Every member of the lineup except for C Raul Chavez had at least one hit.  SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Hector Gimenez, LF Lastings Milledge, and CF Jorge Cortes each had one run.  Wil Ledezma pitched one inning for Los Tigres.  He entered the game in the 7th inning, and was responsible for one run on a solo homer.  Then he began the 8th inning, when he allowed two more runs to score.  Corey Hamman pitched in the top of the 9th for Los Navegantes.  He gave up a single and a pair of intentional walks, but ended the inning and the game without any of those runners scoring.  

Tiburones de La Guaira  5,  Caribes de Anzoategui   3  –  In his second Venezuelan League game, LF Jose Tabata walked and singled for Los Caribes.  He singled in the bottom of the 1st, moving another runner to third base, and that runner came around to score, for 2 runs in the 1st.  Los Tiburones tied the score with 2 runs in the 3rd inning.  They took the lead with a run in the 6th, and Los Caribes tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, on a walk and two singles.  The game went into extras, and in the top of the 10th, Los Tiburones scored the winning and insurance runs on a 2-run homer.  

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Singh Wins First Aussie Game

An Australian double header early on Friday morning:

Game One:  Canberra Cavalry  3,  Adelaide Bite  1 
Pirate farmhand Rinku Singh earned his first win for the Cavalry, in a pitching-dominated game.  Former Altoona Curve pitcher Paul Mildren pitched the entire (7 inning) game for the Bite.  He allowed only one hit over the first three innings, and another single in the 4th.  Mildren got out of a jam in the 5th — a walk and a double put two runners into scoring position with one out.  The next batter tapped one back to the mound, and Mildren returned the ball to his catcher, who tagged the lead runner out at the plate.  A pop out ended the inning.  But in the bottom of the 6th, Mildren gave up a double, an intentional walk, and another double, which brought in 2 runs.  Two more singles added a third run for the Cavalry.  
The Bite were also scoreless in all but their last at-bat.  They put runners on base in every inning, but could not bring them around to score.  LF Quincy Latimore led off the 4th inning with a single, then moved to second base on a wild pitch.  He got to third on an error, but was left there when the inning ended.  The Bite also left two runners on base in the 5th inning.  In the 6th, back-to-back singles put two Bite runners on base with one out.  The Cavalry made a pitching change, bringing in Rinku Singh.  Singh ended the inning with a strikeout and a ground out, stranding the two runners.  Singh came out to begin the 7th inning with a 3-run lead (and so was the pitcher of record, to get the win).  He gave up a walk, then got a strikeout.  A fielding error and a single by Latimore loaded the bases, and Singh was replaced.  The new pitcher, Chris Morgan, walked the first batter he faced, forcing in the Bite’s only run of the game, but then got a double play to end it.  

Game Two:  Cavalry  11,  Bite 6  
Latimore also had two hits in this game, but the Bite’s 5-run 7th inning couldn’t stand up to their total meltdown in the bottom of the 5th, when the Cavalry scored all 11 of their runs.  The night-cap began like the first game, with pitchers in control.  The Bite had only two hits and a walk scattered over their first 5 innings, though one of the hits was a solo homer by DH Brandon Bantz in the 4th.  The Bite pitching allowed only 2 hits to Canberra over their first four innings.  Then came the bottom of the 5th:  walk, single, throwing error (2 runs), triple (run #3), double (#4), walk, missed catch error to load the bases, single (#5,6), single, single (#7), double (#8), wild pitch (#9), walk, triple (#10, 11), then finally, a ground out and a pop out to end the inning. Oh, and both of those triples were by pinch-hitter Donald Lutz, who came out of the game after that inning.  
Latimore doubled with two outs in the 6th, but got no further.  The Bite rallied in the 7th, but weren’t even close to catching up.  With one out, three consecutive singles brought in one run, then a walk loaded the bases.  A double drove in two runs, then Latimore brought in the fourth run by beating out an infield hit to short.   Another single added run #5, but that was all they could get.
The same two teams play another double header on Saturday. 

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Claggett Takes A Loss; Homers For Cedeno And Gimenez

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  
Everyone has probably seen that Zach Duke has been traded to Arizona for a player to be named later.
Also, former Pirate Bryan Bullington, who was removed from the Kansas City Royals’ 40-man roster last week, was released by the Royals yesterday.  Then Bullington signed a contract to play in Japan for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp for 2011.

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in the winter leagues on Wednesday….. 

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Tiburones de La Guaira  4,  Bravos de Margarita  1  (Game 1)  –  
This was supposed to be a 7-inning game, but the score was still tied at 1-1 after 7.  A bases-loaded walk forced in Los Bravos’ run in the bottom of the 1st.  Los Tiburones tied the score with a run on a single, a ground out, and another single in the 3rd.  Anthony Claggett had pitched a scoreless 7th inning — he gave up a single, but then picked the base runner off first.  But he started the top of the 8th with a single and a sacrifice bunt, and was then relieved.  The next pitcher loaded the bases with a pair of walks, then he was relieved too.  Two singles and a sacrifice fly brought in 3 runs for Los Tiburones, with the first one charged to Claggett, making him responsible for the loss.  Margarita won the second game 3-0, holding Los Tiburones to just 3 hits in the 7-inning game.  Former Pirate farmhand Ronald Belisario allowed one of the hits along with a walk in the 7th inning, earning his 8th save.

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Navegantes del Magallanes  5  –  Both SS Ronny Cedeno and 1B Hector Gimenez hit 2-run homers for Los Tigres in this win.  Gimenez’s blast got Aragua going in their 4-run 1st inning, and Cedeno’s homer made the score 6-1 in the 2nd inning.  Gimenez also doubled in the game.  CF Jorge Cortes walked and scored for Los Tigres, and C Raul Chavez was 0-for-3 at the plate.  

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Two Hits For Marte In The Dominican League

Cheering for the Pirates’ players and friends in Tuesday’s winter league action…
I’ll be going on the road for a few days… catch up with everyone at the beginning of next week.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE

Cardenales de Lara  6,  Tigres de Aragua  2  –  Los Tigres were held to 5 hits.  They scored their 2 runs in the 7th inning on a walk, a triple, and a single.  Aragua also had two singles in the 3rd inning but didn’t score, and 3 walks in the 6th, but a double play and a pop out ended that inning without a run scoring.  Los Tigres’ only other hit in the game was a double by 1B Hector Gimenez to lead off the 9th inning.  Raul Chavez pinch hit in the 9th, but popped out to end the game.  Lastings Milledge started the game in left field, and popped out to end the 2nd inning (with no runners on base).  He was removed from the game as the bottom half of the inning began, but no explanation was given.  CF Jorge Cortes went 0-for-3 for Los Tigres.  Former Indy Indian C Alex Delgado had an RBI single in the 4th for Lara, and doubled and scored on a 2-run homer in the 6th. 

Bravos de Margarita  2,  Navegantes del Magallanes  1  –  Pitching ruled for the first 6 innings of this game.  Margarita scored a run in the 7th on two singles and added another run in the 8th on a walk and two more singles.  Los Navegantes scored just one run, which came in the bottom of the 9th, on a walk and a double.  Justin Thomas took the mound in relief for Los Bravos to begin the bottom of the 5th.  He worked around a lead-off single for a scoreless 5th, then loaded the bases on two singles, a sacrifice bunt, and an intentional walk to begin the 6th inning.  Edgar Martinez relieved Thomas and got a strikeout and pop out to end the inning with the bases still loaded.  Ronald Belisario earned his 7th save for Margarita, even though he was responsible for Los Navegantes’ run in the 9th.  

Leones del Caracas  5,  Caribes del Anzoategui  4  –  Four runs in the top of the 9th were not enough for Los Caribes to catch up to Los Leones.  Adenson Chourio came into the game to pinch-run in the 9th, with the bases loaded and one run already walked in.  A double lined into center field scored the runners from second and third, but Chourio was out at the plate on the throw in from center field.  C Carlos Maldonado was the one who tagged out Chourio.  Maldonado’s lead-off homer in the 8th gave Caracas what turned out to be the winning run.  He also singled in the 2nd and walked in the 6th.   

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