Cheering for Pirates’ players and friends in winter league playoff games…
Estrellas de Oriente 9, Gigantes del Cibao 4 — A pair of 2-run homers in the first two innings got Los Estrellas off to a good start. Three singles added two more runs in the 6th for Los Estrellas. Five singles, including one by Ronny Paulino, and a fielding error by RF Rich Thompson (the second in 2 days) added another 3 runs in the 7th. By then, Los Gigantes were out of it. They scored one run in the 1st on a passed ball, a single, and a sacrifice fly. Los Gigantes rallied for 3 runs in the 8th. A single and a grounder force out left Thompson on first base. He advanced to second base on a fielding error, then scored on an RBI double. Another ground out and a single brought in two more runs.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Senadores de San Juan 2, Gigantes de Carolina 0 — A pitching duel, with each team held to just 4 hits. 2B Benji Gonzalez and CF Luis Matos hit back-to-back singles in the 5th, and that was the closest Los Gigantes came to scoring. Three of Los Senadores’ hits were singles in the 3rd inning, and combined with a sacrifice bunt and a throwing error, that brought in their two runs.
Caribes de Anzoategui 7, Bravos de Margarita 1 — More team-jumping here, this time with reliever Jean Machi and catcher JR House jumping from Los Navegantes del Magallanes to Los Bravos de Margarita (and House had been with Los Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican League before that). House went 0-for-3 with a walk for Los Bravos. The walk led off the top of the 3rd, but he was left on base. Los Bravos scored their only run in the 5th, on a hit batter, a double, and an RBI ground out. Los Caribes scored all their runs in the first 4 innings — 2 in the 1st, a 3-run homer in the 2nd, and 2 more in the 4th. Machi came on to pitch for Los Bravos in the 7th, and he worked around a lead-off single, keeping any more runs from scoring.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just a few more days in the winter leagues’ regular seasons…
DOMINICAN LEAGUE (round robin playoff series)
Leones del Escogido 6, Gigantes del Cibao 4 — Three runs in the bottom of the 6th gave Los Leones the win, despite being out-hit 13 – 12. Former Pirate Rich Thompson made his first Dominican League appearance, playing right and center field for Los Gigantes. He singled twice and walked, and drove in Los Gigantes’ first run in the top of the 2nd inning.
Toros del Este 4, Estrellas de Oriente 0 — Los Estrellas also had the better hit totals (8-6) but still lost when they couldn’t push any runners across the plate. DH Ronny Paulino, taken from Los Tigres del Licey in the pre-playoff draft, doubled for Los Estrellas.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 7, Gigantes de Carolina 1 (Game 1) — Los Leones scored in each of the last four innings of the 7-inning game, posting 12 hits. Los Gigantes managed only 4 hits, and scored their only run on a solo homer in the bottom of the 7th. Eric Krebs came in from the bullpen for Los Gigantes when another reliever was ejected (after hitting a batter). Krebs threw a wild pitch, moving runners to second and third bases. A ground out brought in the runner from third base (charged to the previous pitcher), then Krebs ended the inning with a strikeout.
Leones 7, Gigantes 6 (Game 2) — Benji Gonzalez got the start at second base for Los Gigantes. He doubled to lead off the bottom of the 1st, and scored on a ground out and a fielding error. Gonzalez walked to load the bases in the 5th, and a sacrifice fly gave Los Gigantes a second run. Ponce scored 3 runs in the 3rd on two singles and two doubles, then 2 runs in the 5th on a single, a walk, and a 2-RBI triple. A single and a pair of doubles gave them two more in the top of the 7th, and Los Gigantes were behind 7-2 going into the bottom of the 7th (a 7-inning game). With RJ Rodriguez on the mound for Los Leones, Los Gigantes rallied in the bottom of 7th. Gonzalez opened the frame with a walk, then went to second base on a passed ball. With two outs (both strikeouts), A double plated Gonzalez, then a walk, a wild pitch, and a triple gave Los Gigantes two more runs. The second wild pitch of the inning brought in the 4th run. CF Luis Matos was hit by a pitch, but Rodriguez finally got a third strikeout to end the inning and the game.