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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Big Night For Tabata and Cedeno; Hague Is In Mexico

Looking in on Pirates’ players and friends in Saturday’s winter league play–
The Puerto Rican and Dominican Leagues had today off, as they prepare for their All-Star teams to face off tomorrow.  

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Tigres de Aragua  5,  Aguilas de Zulia  0  —  
(Game 1)  SS Ronny Cedeno tripled in Los Tigres’ first two runs, after a double and a single in the 3rd inning.  In the next inning, CF Lastings Milledge reached base on an error, and a walk and a single loaded the bases.  A wild pitch brought in one run, and C Raul Chavez drove in the 2nd run of that inning with a sacrifice fly.  Chavez also picked up an RBI in the 6th inning with a single that followed two walks.  Milledge reached on a fielding error for the second time in the 6th inning, but he was picked off first.  
Tigres 9,  Aguilas 2  —  (Game 2)  Cedeno continued hitting in the night cap, going 2-for-3.  The 6-run 3rd inning took care of things for Los Tigres.  A triple began the inning, and Cedeno drove in the first run with a single.  Three consecutive walks (one by 1B Hector Gimenez) drove in Cedeno, then three consecutive singles added three more runs.  LF Jorge Cortes and C Miguel Perez each had one of those hits.  A sacrifice fly made it 6 runs in the inning.  Perez began another rally in the 6th inning with a walk, and he scored on an RBI double.  Cedeno singled again, and advanced to second base on a wild pitch.  After a single, another wild pitch let Cedeno cross the plate with the 3rd run of the inning.  
Tiburones de La Guaira  4,  Leones del Caracas  3  —  Two runs in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Tiburones the walk-off win.  A bases-loaded single drove in both runs.  A 2-run homer in the top of the 1st started the game for Los Leones.  La Guaira scored one run in the bottom of the inning, then tied the game with another run in the 4th.  A hit batter and a single gave Los Leones a 3-2 lead in the 5th, and that’s where the score remained until the bottom of the 9th.  Jose Ascanio pitched the 8th inning for Caracas.  He gave up a one-out single, then erased that runner and ended the inning with a double play.  Former Pirate C Carlos Maldonado singled in the 2nd inning for Los Leones, but he was also erased with a double play.  

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Hits for Milledge and Cedeno

Cheering for some Pirates’ players and friends in Friday’s winter league action:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  6,  Tigres de Aragua  4  —  
Caracas won this battle of the Big Cats.  Los Leones scored first with a solo homer in the top of the 1st.  Los Tigres tied it up in the 2nd inning.  Two singles, including one by 1B Hector Gimenez, and a throwing error put runners on second and third bases.  LF  Lastings Milledge drove in the run with a ground out to third.  Caracas took the lead again in the top of the 3rd, with a walk, a ground out, and an RBI single.  The batter was out at second as he tried to advance on the throw to the plate:  CF Jorge Cortes to C Raul Chavez to SS Ronny Cedeno, who tagged the runner out.  Aragua took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 3rd, with a 3-run homer, after Chavez reached on a fielding error, a single, and Cedeno’s sacrifice bunt.  But Los Leones came right back with their own homer for 2 runs in the top of the 4th, then took the lead with another run on two singles.  They added an insurance run in the top of the 9th, on two singles and a throwing error.  Los Tigres did not score again, though Milledge singled in the 4th, Cedeno singled in the 5th, and Cortes singled in the 7th.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Gigantes de Carolina  8,  Criollos de Caguas  3  —  
Los Criollos managed only 5 hits, and two of those were by SS Luis Figueroa.  Figueroa singled in the 3rd, and along with two more singles and two walks, Los Criollos scored 2 runs.  Figueroa also reached on an error in the 4th, and that allowed Los Criollos’ remaining run to score.  He also singled in the 9th.  3B Ramon Vazquez went 0-for-4 for Caguas.  Los Gigantes scored 2 runs in the 2nd and 4th innings, then added 4 runs in the 7th inning.   

DOMINICAN LEAGUE
Aguilas Cibaenas  10,  Tigres del Licey  3  —  
Los Tigres posted 10 hits but left 11 runners on base, scoring only 3 times.  Licey scored a run in the 3rd on two singles and a sacrifice fly.  LF Jake Fox and two others singled in the 7th, and one run scored when C Robinzon Diaz bounced into a double play.  A single and a double gave Los Tigres their last run in the 8th.  Diaz singled for Los Tigres in the 2nd inning, but DH Ronny Paulino (who just signed a contract with the Mets) went 0-for-3 with a walk.  Los Aguilas put up their first run in the 4th, tying the game on two singles, a walk, and a wild pitch.  Then they put the game out of reach with 4 runs in the 6th and 3 runs in the 7th.  Denny Bautista came on to pitch for Licey in the 7th, and he gave up a walk and a 2-RBI double.  Starling Marte scored one of those runs, since he had just come in to pinch-run.  Marte remained in the game to play right field.  He batted again in the 9th, and reached base on a fielding error, though was out on a force play at second.  A walk and a single brought in two more Aguilas’ runs in the 9th.  LF Kevin Melillo went 0-for-3 for Los Aguilas.    

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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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Nice Start For Claggett, Key Doubles For Ciriaco and Noris

MLB’s winter meetings begin tomorrow (Monday).  Stay tuned for news of trades, moves, shifts, Rule 5 draft, etc.  
A few of Sunday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends participating:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Cardenales de Lara  3,  Bravos de Margarita 1  —  Anthony Claggett
pitched 4 innings in his start for Los Bravos, and allowed one unearned run on a hit and a walk in the night-cap of a double-header.  The run came in the bottom of the 1st, when a single and a throwing error at third base put the lead-off runner on second base.  A sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out brought in the unearned run.  After a walk, Claggett retired 10 of the 11 remaining batters he faced — he hit one batter with a pitch.  Los Bravos scored their run in the top of the 1st, on a double, a bunt, and a sacrifice fly.  Claggett left the game with the score tied.  He was relieved by Edgar Martinez, who began the bottom of the 5th by allowing a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a 2-run homer, which gave Lara the win.  

Aguilas de Zulia  6,  Tigres de Aragua  1  —  SS Ronny Cedeno and CF Lastings Milledge each had a single in the 8th inning, and Milledge also walked in the 4th, but neither came around to score in Los Tigres’ loss.  Aragua’s only run was scored in the top of the 9th, on a triple and an RBI single.  Zulia scored their 6 runs on 13 hits, scattered over 5 of their 8 at-bats.  C Raul Chavez, C Miguel Perez, and pinch-hitter Jorge Cortes were all hitless for Los Tigres.  

Leones del Caracas   8,  Navegantes del Magallanes  4  —  Corey Hamman pitched a scoreless inning for Los  Navegantes in their loss.  Caracas had already scored 2 runs in each of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, and Los Navegantes had scored a pair of runs on a 2-run homer in the 4th and one more run in the 7th on a double, a single, and an RBI ground out.  The first batter in the top of the 8th was hit by a pitch, and Hamman entered the game with that runner on first base.  He gave up a walk but retired three batters to get out of the inning without allowing a run to score.  Los Navegantes scored one more run in the bottom of the 9th on a hit batter and two singles, but it wasn’t enough.

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