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.
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.
The Venezuelan, Mexican Pacific, and Puerto Rican Leagues wrap up their regular season play today. Everyone is off for New Year’s Eve, and playoff games begin soon after. A few of the Pirates’ players and friends in tonight’s action:
Caribes de Anzoategui 2, Navegantes del Magallanes 1 — C JR House had the second of three consecutive singles to lead off the top of the 7th for Los Navegantes, when they scored their only run of the game. That run tied the game at 1-1, after Los Caribes had scored one run in the 5th on a fielding error and a double. But Los Caribes broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th with a pair of doubles, and took the win.
Aguilas de Zulia 8, Cardenales de Lara 7 — Los Aguilas posted 16 hits and piled up their runs in the middle innings, and were leading 8-1 going into the top of the 9th. Romulo Sanchez pitched the top of the 9th for Lara, and retired the side in order. Then in the bottom of the inning. Los Cardenales rallied with three singles, two doubles, and a 2-run homer, scoring 6 runs. But with two runners still on base, a fly out ended the game, and Los Cardenales fell one run short of catching up.
DOMINICAN LEAGUE (Round Robin Playoff Series)
Toros del Este 2, Leones del Escogido 1 — A pitching duel, with each team posting only 5 hits. Los Toros scored 2 runs in the 4th on two consecutive fielding errors, a single, a walk to force in one run, and an RBI ground out. Two singles and a ground out gave Los Leones their only run in the top of the 9th. SS Pedro Ciriaco went 0-for-3, plus he reached on a fielding error in the 3rd and stole second base.
Estrellas de Oriente 9, Gigantes del Cibao 0 — DH Ronny Paulino was Los Estrellas’ heavy hitter for the second night in a row. He went 3-for-3, walked, scored twice, and drove in a run. He singled to lead off the 2nd inning, though did not score. He singled again to lead off the 4th, moved to third on a double, and scored on a sacrifice fly. Another run came in on two more singles and a walk. Paulino singled for the third time in the 5th inning, but was left on base. Los Estrellas rallied for 6 runs in the 6th inning. A walk, a single, and a hit batter loaded the bases, then Paulino picked up his RBI when he walked to force in a run. A single and a wild pitch each brought in a run. A ground out scored Paulino, and one more single drove in 2 runs. A solo homer gave Los Estrellas their final run in the 7th. Los Gigantes were held to just 6 hits, and two of those were by RF Rich Thompson. He singled to open the 5th, but was out at second on a force play. Thompson doubled in the 7th inning, and was left on base.