Wins For Ascanio And Ledezma, Loss For Nieve

Looking in on Pirates’ players and friend in Monday’s winter league action:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Leones del Caracas  6,  Cardenales de Lara  5  –  
Two runs in the bottom of the 9th gave Los Leones and Jose Ascanio the win.  Los Cardenales were leading 5-4 in the top of the 8th, when Ascanio came in from the bullpen with one out and a runner on first base.  Ascanio’s catcher picked the runner off first base, recorded as a caught stealing, then Ascanio got a ground out to end the inning.  He gave up a single in the top of the 9th, but kept Los Cardenales from scoring.  Then in the bottom of the 9th, with Ray Sadler coming in to play center field for Lara, Los Leones eked out a single and a walk.  A passed ball on ball four put runners on the corners for Los Leones.  A single into center field drove n the run from third, for the walk-off win.  Ascanio was the pitcher of record, so was credited with his first Venezuelan League win.  

Bravos de Margarita  4,  Caribes de Anzoategui  0  –  LF Jose Tabata went 0-for-3 with a walk for Los Caribes, who recorded 8 hits, but could not push any of their base runners across the plate.  They left a total of 11 runners on base and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  Los Bravos scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a double, two singles, a walk, and a fielding error.  A solo homer added a fourth run in the 6th.  Jhonathan Ramos came on to pitch for Margarita in the 7th, with two outs.  He loaded the bases with a single and two walks, then was relieved, but due to Los Caribes’ lack of luck, another reliever got Tabata to fly out to end the inning, leaving three runners on base.

Aguilas de Zulia  6,  Navegantes del Magallanes  3  –  Fernando Nieve struggled through 2.2 innings and was eventually charged with the loss for Magallanes.  He gave up a solo homer to the second batter of the game, then gave up two runs in the 2nd on two singles and a double.  Three singles and a double steal brought in two more runs for Zulia in the 3rd, and that was all for Nieve — 5 runs on 8 hits, no walks, with 4 strikeouts.  Two more singles added another run for Los Aguilas in the top of the 7th.  Los Navegantes started their scoring in the bottom of the 7th.  Former Pirate farmhand JR House, who made the jump over from the Dominican League, came into the game as a pinch-runner after a 2-out single.  A walk and an RBI single allowed House to score Magallanes’ first run.  House remained in the game to play first base, and he flied out in the 9th.  A walk, a double, and a fielding error gave Los Navegantes 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th.  

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Tiburones de La Guaira  3  –  Wil Ledezma also earned his first Venezuelan League win with 1.2 hitless and scoreless innings of work.  Los Tigres started scoring in the bottom of the 1st, when SS Ronny Cedeno reached base on a fielding error, then scored on a double.  C Raul Chavez blasted a 2-run homer in the 2nd, to give Aragua a 3-0 lead.  Los Tiburones scored 2 runs in the top of the 3rd on three singles and two walks, then tied the score in the top of the 4th on a double, a bunt, and an RBI ground out.  Ledezma came in from the bullpen in the 4th, and ended the 4th, then retired the side in order in the 5th.  He was still the pitcher of record when Los Tigres scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th.  Chavez walked, and moved to second base on CF Jorge Cortes’ sacrifice bunt.  Cedeno singled, putting runners on the corners, then a sacrifice fly plated Chavez.  A 2-run homer by DH Wilson Ramos brought in Cedeno.  1B Hector Gimenez also doubled after the homer.  Three walks, including one by Gimenez, and a wild pitch gave Los Tigres an insurance run in the 8th.  

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Big Day For Milledge, Cortes, And Tabata; Loss For Ascanio

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Sunday’s winter league action…
The Dominican League’s last regular season games will be on Tuesday. 

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE 
Tigres de Aragua  8,  Leones de Caracas  3  (Game 1) —  
Los Tigres won this battle of the big cats with a 6-run 3rd inning.  CF Jorge Cortes led off the inning with a single, was bunted to second base, and scored on an RBI single.  SS Ronny Cedeno lined out, but the next two batters singled, driving in a run.  1B Hector Gimenez was hit by a pitch, then LF Lastings Milledge brought in two runs with his RBI single.  A triple added two more runs.  Cortes walked in his second at-bat in the inning, but a fly out ended the rally.  Los Tigres added another run in the 5th on a single, Gimenez’s ground rule double, and Milledge’s sacrifice fly — his third RBI of the game.  Milledge singled again in a rally in the 7th, when Aragua slipped in their 8th run.  Caracas did all their scoring in the bottom of the 7th, leading off the inning with two singles and a 3-run homer.  

Tigres  6,  Leones  5  (Game 2)  –  It was Cortes who had 3 hits in the night-cap, while Cedeno, Gimenez, and C Raul Chavez were hitless.  Wil Ledezma made the start for Los Tigres, and pitched 2 innings, allowing a run in the 1st.  Aragua tied the score in the 2nd with a walk, a single by Milledge, and an RBI single by Cortes.  Ledezma was relieved to begin the 3rd, and that was when Caracas scored 2 more runs on a walk, a single, and a triple.  Another triple and a sacrifice fly gave Los Leones a 4-1 lead in the 5th.  Los Tigres came roaring back in the top of the 6th, to take the lead.  The inning began with 3 consecutive walks, including on Milledge and Gimenez.  A triple cleared the bases, then Cortes’ double gave Aragua a 5-4 lead.  Another single and a walk loaded the bases for Aragua, but a double play ended the inning and the rally.  Caracas tied the score again in the bottom of the 7th, sending the game into extra innings.  Jose Ascanio took the mound for Caracas in the top of the 7th, when he retired the side in order.  In the bottom of the 8th, pinch-hitter Miguel Perez led off with a single, and Cortes bunted him to second base.  A single drove in the speedy Perez from second base with the go-ahead run.

Navegantes del Magallanes  8,  Tiburones de La Guaira  2  –  Los Tiburones had the early lead, but Los Navegantes scored 7 of their runs in the final three innings, including a 4-run 8th.  Jean Machi earned his 7th save with 1.1 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

Caribes de Anzoategui  8,  Cardenales de Lara  7  (Game 1)  –  Six runs in the 2nd inning gave Los Caribes enough runs to outlast Lara’s late-inning rallies.  DH Jose Tabata singled and scored on a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st.  Los Cardenales got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning, but Los Caribes had their big 2nd inning.  With one out, a walk and four straight singles, including Tabata’s second single, brought in two runs, then a grand slam by LF Juan Camacho gave Los Caribes an 8-1 lead.  

Caribes  4,  Cardenales  2  (Game 2) —  Four runs in the 6th inning gave Los Caribes what they needed.  The inning began with a double and a single, then Jose Tabata lined another single into center field, bringing in one run.  Three more singles and a sacrifice fly added 3 more runs.  Los Cardenales scored one run in the 2nd on a walk, a single, and an RBI ground out.  A double, a wild pitch, and a single gave Lara their second run in the 4th.  CF Ray Sadler went 0-for-3 for Lara.

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Many Familiar Winter League Pitchers

Lots of Pirates and former Pirates pitching in Friday’s winter league action… This is the last week of regular season play for the Dominican and Puerto Rican leagues.

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes de Anzoategui  8,  Tiburones de La Guaira  5  – (Game 1) 
A 5-run 6th inning gave Los Caribes the edge in the first game of the double header.  Los Caribes started the game with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on a single, a walk by DH Jose Tabata, and a 3-run homer.  The 6th inning began with a double, a hit batter, and a walk to load the bases.  Two sacrifice flies, an RBI single, and a sacrifice bunt aided by a throwing error by Los Tiburones’ pitcher added four more runs.  Tabata also singled in the inning.  La Guaira scored 2 runs in the 4th and rallied for 3 in the bottom of the 7th, but could not catch up.

Tiburones   9,  Caribes  2  – (Game 2)  Ryan Vogelsong earned his 6th win for Los Tiburones.  He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk over 6 innings.  Tabata did not get into the night-cap.

Leones de Caracas  6,  Aguilas de Zulia  2  –  Another former Pirate pitcher earned the win —  Ronald Uviedo also pitched 6 innings and allowed 2 runs.  He gave up 8 hits and a walk.  Los Leones scored one run in the 1st, two in the 2nd, and 3 in the 5th.  C Carlos Maldonado singled twice and walked, and scored one run.  

Bravos de Margarita  9,  Cardenales de Lara  –  Both teams put up big innings and posted a total of 12 hits each.  Lara had a 5-run 3rd inning, which began with CF Ray Sadler  being hit by a pitch.  Three singles and a throwing error brought in 2 runs, a sacrifice fly plated a third run, and a 2-run homer made it 5 runs.  Three consecutive doubles, including one by Sadler, plus a sacrifice fly gave Los Cardenales 3 runs in the 4th.  Los Bravos began their scoring with a run in the 2nd, then 3 runs in the 3rd on three singles, an error, and a wild pitch.  They added 4 more in the next inning, on three singles and three walks.  After the bottom of the 4th, the score was tied at 8-8.  Los Bravos scored what would turn out to be the winning run in the top of the 5th, on a walk, a double, and an RBI ground out.  Romulo Sanchez pitched to three batters and got three outs in the top of the 9th for Los Cardenales.  Anthony Claggett took the mound for Los Bravos in the bottom of the 6th, with two on and one out.  He got two outs to end the inning, then pitched the next two innings, allowing only one walk, no hits, with three strikeouts.  Ronald Belisario earned his 14th save with a scoreless 9th inning for Los Bravos.  

Tigres de Aragua  7,  Navegantes del Magallanes  5  –  New Pirate Fernando Nieve made the start for Los Navegantes and pitched 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks.  A double and an RBI single by CF Jorge Cortes gave Los Tigres their first run in the 2nd inning.  Nieve gave up a 2-run homer to 1B Hector Gimenez in the 3rd inning.  Gimenez got to him again in the 5th, with an RBI single that followed a lead-off double.  Los Tigres scored 3 more runs after Nieve departed.  Cortes walked to lead off the 6th, then scored on a bunt and an RBI single.  Two runs scored in the 7th.  A double, Gimenez’s third hit of the game, a wild pitch, and LF Lasting Milledge’s sacrifice fly plated the runs.  Los Navegantes also scored one run in the 2nd inning, when LF Mike Ryan led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error.  Magallanes scored 3 runs in the 5th, on a pair of singles, a double, and a fielding error by Milledge.  Reliever Wil Ledezma took the mound in relief for Aragua after those three runs had scored, and he worked around another error to get two outs and prevent further runs from scoring.  

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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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Veal Re-signed; Hits For Brown And Hague

Southpaw Donnie Veal will likely be back in Indianapolis in 2011.  He has signed a minor league contract with the Pirates today, and has also been invited to the big league camp for Spring Training.  After struggling through his mandatory year on the Pirates’ major league roster as a Rule 5 Draft pick in 2009, Veal was assigned to the AAA Indians to begin 2010.  He made 9 starts for the Indians, with a 3-2 record and a 4.35 ERA over 49.2 innings before being shut down due to elbow issues.  Veal had Tommy John surgery in early June, and is expected to be ready to go for Spring Training.  

The signing of 1B Lyle Overbay is going to make things more difficult for the likes of Steve Pearce and Jeff Clement.  Both are working their way back from knee problems.  Pearce was granted one more option year because of his injuries last season.  

Other news of minor league contracts signed: Former Pirate Denny Bautista has signed with the Mariners.  INF Doug Bernier, who spent 2010 with the Indy Indians, signed with the Yankees.  P Vinnie Chulk signed with the A’s.  Former Pirate P Jonah Bayliss signed with the Rays.  INF/OF Jonathan Van Every signed with the Nationals.  

Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in Wednesday’s winter league games:

VENEZUELAN LEAGUE
Caribes de Anzoategui  4,  Bravos de Margarita  0  –  
Los Bravos were held to just 3 hits, along with 2 walks.  The first 13 Margarita batters went down in order before the first base runner reached on a walk.  They had 2 runners on base in both the 6th and 8th innings, but could not get them around to score.  Los Caribes scored one run in each of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, then one more in the 7th.  In the 4th, LF Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch, then scored on an RBI double.  

Tigres del Aragua  3,  Cardenales de Lara  1  –  A 2-run homer in the bottom of the 11th by C Wilson Ramos broke the 1-1 tie for Los Tigres.  The homer came off Lara reliever Romulo Sanchez, who was charged with his second loss of the season.  Each team scored a run in the 2nd inning.  Los Cardenales’ rally was started with a single by former Pirate farmhand CF Ray Sadler, then another single and two walks forced in a run.  Ramos doubled to lead off the bottom of the 2nd for Los Tigres.  He scored on a single by 1B Hector Gimenez and a sacrifice fly.  Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, but there was only one base runner for either team over the next four innings — that was DH Lastings Milledge, who doubled in the 9th.  

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